Former journalist now the SA-Best party’s representative in the SA Legislative Council, THE HON FRANK PANGALLO MLC, has accused the South Australian Government of “wilful blindness” over its avoidance to confront serious unlawful behaviour “at the highest levels”. His speech on February 9, 2022 came in the wake of Flinders University legal academic Dr Bob Moles earlier accusation that Acting Attorney-General of SA Josh Teague demonstrated “a lack of honesty and diligence” in relation to former state forensic pathologist Dr Colin Manock’s documented failures and lack of qualifications which should have been declared by the DPP in the pending High Court appeal by Derek Bromley.
Wilful blindness involves conscious avoidance of truth and gives rise to an inference of knowledge of the crime in question. It is with dismay that I report it is a form of corruption practised quite freely in this state, at the highest levels of government, the criminal justice system and law enforcement.
It is far more scandalous because they know it happens yet they tolerate it in total silence to avoid opening a Pandora’s box. Most concerning is that the very department responsible for law and order, the Attorney-General’s Department, tolerates and obfuscates corrupt conduct. The most conspicuous example has created international unrest and unease among miscarriage of justice groups and eminent jurists. It is now the subject of a new book by Drew Rooke, A Witness of Fact, which is centred on the state’s disgraced former chief pathologist, Dr Colin Manock, who was unqualified to carry out thousands of autopsies and assisted in securing over 400 criminal convictions and therefore should never have been allowed to give expert evidence.
Rooke has spoken to a raft of forensic and legal experts and they are unanimous in their verdict on Dr Manock’s 27-year tenure. He was a fraud. The state government knew it because it was admitted in court proceedings going back 50 years. Attorney-Generals past and present knew it. Judges, including the current Chief Justice, knew it. Prosecutors knew it. Barristers knew it. Police knew it. Yet matters which relied on his expert testimony proceeded unchallenged. Unsafe verdicts sending innocent people to gaol. So why hasn’t the worst ‘scandal’ in South Australia’s criminal history been addressed?
Australia’s longest serving Aboriginal prisoner Derek Bromley’s leave application to the High Court against his murder conviction, which relied on the improbable testimony of Dr Manock, is being challenged by the Crown. Mr Bromley’s supporters wrote to the Attorney-General and the DPP, former Judge Martin Hinton, requesting that, as model litigants, they should disclose in their submissions in any legal proceedings reliant on Dr Mannock’s evidence that he had no relevant qualifications, credibility or competence as an expert witness.
Going by their responses, they are not listening. Professor Bob Moles, a respected campaigner against miscarriages of justice, sent this to me today: How on earth can prosecutors charge people for disobeying laws if they themselves are willing to disregard the law? For me, the idea of a former Supreme Court judge declaring that he would disregard the law to maintain the conviction of an Aboriginal man who has served nearly 40 years in prison on the basis of a person acknowledged to be corrupt by his employer, the coroner, numerous judges and the Attorney General (VC) [Vickie Chapman] is manifestly absurd.
As a model litigant, the Crown has a duty to disclose evidence which could even undermine their own case.