The board of inquiry into the conviction of David Eastman for the murder of Police Commissioner Colin Winchester has found the original conviction was wrong.
The applicant did not receive a fair trial according to law. He was denied a fair chance of
acquittal. As a consequence, a substantial miscarriage of justice has occurred.
Acting Justice Brian Martin has recommended the conviction be quashed.
I am fairly certain that the applicant is guilty of the murder of the deceased, but a nagging doubt remains. Regardless of my opinion as to the applicant’s guilt, in my view the substantial miscarriage of justice suffered by the applicant should not be allowed to stand uncorrected. To allow such a miscarriage of justice to stand uncorrected would be contrary to the fundamental principles that guide the administration of justice in Australia and would bring the administration of justice into disrepute. Allowing such a miscarriage of justice to stand uncorrected would severely undermine public confidence in the administration of justice.
Simon Corbell has responded to the report saying it is a matter for the Supreme Court as to whether Eastman is released:
“It is now a matter for the Supreme Court to consider the report and to determine what orders it should make as a result,” Simon said.
“As the report is now before the Supreme Court, it is not appropriate for me to make any comment about the substance of the report or the recommendations made by Acting Justice Martin.
“It is a matter for the court, as to when any orders are made.”
David Eastman was a brilliant young economist and at one time a rising star at Treasury.
In 1989 Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Colin Winchester was shot dead in the driveway of his Deakin home. At the time Winchester was the highest ranking police officer to be assassinated in the western world.
In 1995 Eastman was convicted following a spectacularly messy trial involving multiple sackings of Eastman’s defence lawyers by the defendant.
Many Canberrans have for a long time wondered if Winchester’s assassination was not linked to his role in ending Operation Seville where the NSW and Australian Federal Police were growing and selling marijuana. In 1990 the ABC produced a documentary on this theory.