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Nov 03

Failure of the System?

The Queensland Court of Appeal allowed Hanson and Ettridge’s appeals, and their convictions were quashed. Newspapers report that Hanson is proclaiming that “the system failed her”. Yet, by mere virtue of the fact that, through the appeals process, she was exonerated implies that the system ultimately has not.

Mr Ettridge said there was no jury in Queensland that would not have been prejudiced against them because of all the publicity they had received in the lead-up to the trial.

“It’s an attack on the democratic process and the rights of Australians,” he told Radio 4BC in Brisbane.

“In the same way that Lindy Chamberlain was judged by the public and the media before she ever got to a court, we were.”

Mr Ettridge said he wanted compensation for the time he and Ms Hanson spent in prison and for the disruption to their lives over the past two years.

“I’d like to see some compensation, but the Queensland government has protected themselves against recourse and of course they can do these things and you can’t sue them for it,” he said.

Some things to note about his inferences of trial by media. Firstly, he complains to the media about how the media prejudiced the jury against them. Secondly, he complains about how the Queensland government has protected themselves which allows them to “do these things”. What things? Hanson and himself were convicted by jury – the government had nothing to do with it. Something is gravely amiss with his conception of the separation of powers doctrine when he criticises the government. The main problem is the time he spent in jail, which was, it turned out to be, wrongful incarceration (but not illegal)… it is definitely regrettable, however, the criminal system has never purported to be perfect. Ettridge also said something that I thought was quite noteworthy:

Journalist: How would you some up your last eleven weeks in jail?

Ettridge: It’s been an interesting experience. I think I’m enriched as a result of having been in prison. I’ve seen another part of life that people talk about, but never experience. People who now want to give opinions on putting people in prison and how severe their sentences must be, have no idea of the effect that it has on a prisoner, their family , their friends, their assets their whole life. I’ve met people in here who are doing fourteen years, twenty years, fifteen years, it is incomprehensible to think what effect that has on a person.

An astute observation.

  7:24pm (GMT +11.00)  •  Law  •   •  Tweet This  •  Comments (3)