Andrew L. Urban
It’s been five years since the South Australian Court of Criminal Appeal refused Derek Bromley leave to appeal his 1984 murder conviction, which leads to his current application to The High Court – which has set aside May 17 & 18, 2023, just to hear argument seeking leave to appeal.
Bromley was convicted 39 years ago. His attempts to appeal his conviction have been marred by legal errors, according to Flinders University legal academics Dr Bob Moles and Bibi Sangha, the latest at the SA Appeal Court, perhaps the most egregious. “It is our view that the appeal court in Bromley has fundamentally failed to pay due regard to the rule of law and to the well-established principles governing criminal appeals. The appellate function is to review the conduct of the trial to determine if appealable error has occurred. If it has, the proper procedure is to set aside the conviction, and in appropriate cases, allow for a retrial. Not to conduct that retrial before the appeal court.” Moles and Sangha hope the High Court will see their point.
The High Court heard the initial seeking leave application on September 16, 2022, when it referred the application to the full Court – now hearing it on May 17 & 18 – eight months later. The previous hearing at the contested South Australian Court of Criminal Appeal was in June 2018 –almost five years before the upcoming hearing. If the High Court grants leave to appeal, there will be a further delay (some months) before Bromley’s argument to quash his conviction is heard at the High Court.
Moles says “This scandalous delay cannot be seen to be effective. This is especially so, as the Crown (DPP) knows that the evidence put forward at his trial by the key pathologist was not admissible because the pathologist was not qualified to do the work or to give evidence about it in court. Even all these years later, the DPP continues to misinform the High Court on this issue and the Attorney General refuses to exercise his statutory power to provide a direction to the DPP to comply with the relevant duty of disclosure. This is unprecedented.”
Bromley has been eligible for release since 2006 but has remained in prison because he consistently denies committing the crime. In early 2006 he presented a Petition to the Governor of South Australia for the circumstances of his conviction to be re-examined. The Petition stated that research into Dr Manock’s qualifications and the evidence which he had given at a number of trials between 1968 and 1995 has shown that his procedures and diagnoses had been unreliable.
They say justice delayed is justice denied; in this extreme case perhaps it is justice destroyed.