Andrew L. Urban.
The 2015 double murder conviction of Marco Rusterholz presents a significant concern about the Tasmanian criminal justice system, as it extinguishes the requirement for guilt to be established beyond reasonable doubt, relying on questionable allegations.
In 2017, Tasmanian barrister Fabiano Cangelosi conducted an unsuccessful appeal for Rusterholz convicted of the 2012 murders of Angela Hallam and Joshua Newman.
The Appeal Court accepted that the circumstantial case against Rusterholz was not sufficiently strong to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt, but found that the claims of admissions made by Rusterholz to other persons, notwithstanding that they were persons potentially of very low credit, left the convictions as safe and reasonably open.
Under these circumstances, describing the convictions as “safe and reasonably open” is incorrect; the Crown’s case is not resting on evidence but on questionable testimony. Guilt is certainly not proven beyond reasonable doubt.
This is a court report in the Mercury, April 24, 2015:
THE defence council (sic) for Marco Daniel Rusterholz, accused of murdering two people in Launceston, told a Launceston Supreme Court jury that police investigating the crime had suffered from “Marco myopia”.
In his closing address, Evan Hughes told the jury that police had focused too much on gathering evidence to suggest that Mr Rusterholz committed the crime and not enough on three other men who, he said, could have had a hand in causing the deaths of Angela Maree Hallam and Joshua Eric Newman in a Ravenswood flat in 2012.
Mr Hughes said a forensic examination found that the cap of a fuel can used to spread petrol around the flat, before it was set on fire immediately after the murders, carried the DNA of another man – David Ronald Morgan – and that the fuel can only carried Rusterholz’ DNA on an area at the opposite end to the cap.
“The prosecution does not explain how David Morgan’s DNA gets onto the cap,” he said, pointing out the black cap on a red plastic container.
“I’d suggest to you that if this is a gun, then that’s the trigger.”
Mr Hughes said Morgan’s DNA had also been found on taps in the unit where the murder took place.
“Is it the case that he (Morgan) is the last one to touch the taps?” he said.
Mr Hughes said two other men – Mathew Coventry and Jamie Smith – had connections to Ms Hallam and could not be excluded from having an involvement in the murder.
Prosecutor John Ransom earlier said the crime scene evidence fitted with evidence provided by crown witnesses such as Brett Imlach, who had described in court a green bag containing Hallam’s hair in Rusterholz’s car and a conversation in which Rusterholz had told him how he had stabbed Ms Hallam “underneath the ribs”.
As we reported earlier, Rusterholz had been highly critical of trial judge Pearce in his detailed brief to Cangelosi. He also underlines the lack of credibility of the drug addicted witnesses who claim that he had admitted the crimes.