Case background

On Australia Day, our client and his wife were home when the man who lived in the house behind them came home drunk. He made a lot of noise going past their house and woke their dog. The wife went outside and there was a fight. Our client came and joined in the fight. Our client’s brother in law was also in the house and he came out and also joined the fight. The neighbour was stabbed by the wife and died. Other neighbours came out and witnessed the fight. Our client and his wife and the brother-in-law were charged with murder.


Potential penalties

The punishment for murder is set out in section 19A Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), and carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Pursuant to section 54D Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW) a standard Non-Parole Period applies for this type of matter, but varies depending on what category the victim is placed in. In this case, a 20 year standard non-parole period applied.


Committal hearing at Local Court

Application was made pursuant to section 91 Criminal Procedure Act 1986 (NSW) to cross examine a number of eyewitnesses due to the conflicting versions given in the police brief of evidence. It was successfully argued that substantial reasons existed in the interests of justice for this witness to be examined now and not simply left until trial. There is no doubt that as a result of the committal hearing, our client was in a much better position to receive a fair trial.


The trial

At the trial in the Supreme Court, the prosecution alleged that our client and his wife and his brother in law were acting in a joint criminal enterprise. They said that the three accused had agreed to seriously injure or kill the deceased. A number of witnesses gave evidence about what had happened just before the fight and the fight itself. A number of the witnesses had been drinking heavily or were drug affected. There was conflicting evidence about what they told police, what they said at the committal hearing and what they eventually said at trial.


The verdict

Our client was found not guilty of murder and of manslaughter. The co-accused were not represented by Nyman Gibson Miralis. His wife was found guilty of murder and the brother in law pleaded guilty to being an accessory before the fact to murder. The wife was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. Phillip Gibson’s skilful representation of our client helped to ensure the right outcome in this serious matter. His vast experience as a criminal law accredited specialist was of great assistance to the accused in winning his case through careful case management, identifying the issues, and taking appropriate legal action and trial preparation.



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