The SA Director of Public Prosecutions should be directed to inform the High Court that the evidence of Dr Colin Manock, former chief pathologist in South Australia, was inadmissible as he was not qualified to do autopsies or to give expert evidence in court. That was over 38 years ago, when Derek Bromley was convicted of murder based on Manock’s evidence. This is the long simmering issue in the controversial fight over Bromley’s conviction, claimed to be a miscarriage of justice.
The previous Attorney-General (Vickie Chapman) has publicly acknowledged that Dr Manock had been ‘discredited’ and that his evidence as an expert ‘was completely unreliable, in fact manifestly so, for the purposes of making it simply unsustainable to have a conviction be maintained’.
“However, she then stated in subsequent correspondence that she had not intended to suggest that Dr Manock was ‘wholly unreliable’, thereby contradicting what she had said in her interview about his being ‘completely unreliable’,” according to Flinders University legal academic Dr Bob Moles, who had advised Chapman of the requirement. “The key issue in this context, is not the ‘reliability’ of Dr Manock’s evidence but its ‘admissibility’. If Dr Manock was not in fact qualified as an expert, then any opinions he might have had were not admissible as ‘expert opinion’ evidence.”
“This is the most critical element in the pending appeal to the High Court,” comments the editor, Andrew L. Urban. “If the DPP fails to advise the court of the inadmissible status of the key forensic evidence, I suspect Bromley’s legal team certainly will. Not only would that reflect badly on the DPP, it would reflect badly on the Attorney-General as well, in failing to ensure that the rule of law was followed regarding disclosure. But more crucially, the failure would almost certainly cause the High Court to quash the conviction.”
Dr Moles has now written to Premier Peter Malinauskas and Attorney-General Kyam Maher that “the securing of a wrongful conviction by the use of evidence which is ‘false and misleading’ has been described in the law reports as being ‘an unspeakable outrage’ – ‘an extremely grave criminal offence’ – ‘a species of criminality at the extreme end of the spectrum of official corruption’. It must also be true that the maintaining of a wrongful conviction by public officials who are aware of the vitiating circumstances by failing to disclose those circumstances to the court in accordance with their legal obligations to do so, may be similarly described.”
Says Dr Moles: “I am hopeful that South Australia’s first indigenous Attorney-General will appreciate the historical significance of this situation.”