A South Australian man, Derek Bromley, has now served 38 years in prison and “throughout that time the state knew that the conviction had been obtained through evidence which was false and misleading insofar as the status of the chief Crown witness was concerned,” according to a letter by Dr Bob Moles advising the SA Attorney-General that an appeal is heading to the High Court – and the DPP has failed to raise the matter in his response to the leave application.
Flinders University legal academic Dr Moles, who has been working on Bromley’s case for some time, has written to the Attorney-General (January 4, 2022) to alert the incumbent of the legal storm that will break out if the High Court overturns the Bromley murder conviction. “Given that formal legal proceedings are now under way in respect of this conviction, it would not be unreasonable to request that the Attorney-General take steps to ensure that the court is fully informed of all matters which are relevant to ensure a just outcome in accordance with the rule of law. Any further failure in that regard can only have serious and adverse consequences regarding our confidence in the rule of law in South Australia,” he writes.
Dr Moles had earlier (in February 2019 and October 2021) written to the Attorney-General raising concerns about Dr Colin Manock in respect of this matter.
“I noted that Justice Blue had explained the duty which lies upon the Crown to make full disclosure to the court in criminal proceedings of any material which may affect the credibility or reliability of the Crown’s case: R v Keogh (No 2)  SASC 180 at . That duty continues in respect of any appeals.
“I was subsequently advised by the office manager of the Attorney-General on 25 October 2021 that the matter had been referred to the Attorney-General for her consideration: http://netk.net.au/Manock/Manock29.pdf. I have not received any further response. It is important that you are aware that an application has been filed for Special Leave to appeal to the High Court in respect of the conviction of Derek Bromley. The Director of Public Prosecutions has also submitted their response to that application. There is no indication in that response that the prosecution intends to notify the High Court about the matters referred to above which go to the qualifications and credibility of Dr Manock in those proceedings.
“It is clear from the cases cited in our letter of 6 October 2021, that the securing (or maintaining) of a conviction based upon evidence which is known to be false and misleading constitutes ‘an unspeakable outrage’, ‘an extremely grave criminal offence’ and ‘a species of criminality at the extreme end of the spectrum of official corruption’.
“In my previous correspondence, I have emphasised the duty which lies upon the Attorney-General as the senior law officer in the state to maintain the integrity of the legal process and to uphold the rule of law.
“I am sure you will be aware that in the US over the last 20 years they have identified over 2,600 wrongful conviction cases. In Canada there have been over 30 such cases and in the UK there have been over 460. In none of those cases has there been a situation in which a senior forensic pathologist has been instructed to continue to conduct autopsies and give evidence in criminal proceedings concerning them after the state had publicly declared in sworn evidence that he was unqualified to undertake either of those tasks.
“Here we have a situation in which a pathologist was instructed over 27 years to undertake over 10,000 autopsies and to help secure over 400 criminal convictions whilst the state (the Forensic Science Centre, police and prosecution services) knew he was both unqualified and incompetent. In the 25 years since his retirement, there has been no acknowledgment of the serious defects in his status and qualifications by the prosecution services, despite the extensive public discussion of those issues.”
Derek Bromley was convicted of murder in 1984. It was said that he assaulted a person and drowned him in the river in Adelaide. His last appeal (June 2018) floundered when South Australia’s appeal court “fundamentally failed to pay due regard to the rule of law and to the well-established principles governing criminal appeals,” according to legal academics Dr Moles and Bibi Sangha. “The principles espoused in the Bromley decision are not only contrary to established authority but have never before appeared in any legal judgment in Australia, Britain or Canada.”