The judges who today quashed the conviction of David Eastman for the shooting murder of policeman Colin Winchester have been critical of federal police for not following a new and confidential line of inquiry.
Confidential sections of the report from a judicial inquiry into the Eastman conviction put forward an alternative theory on who killed Winchester in 1989 based on fresh evidence.
“There appears to have been a reluctance to treat the new material seriously and an even greater reluctance to conduct any thorough and impartial reinvestigation of the so-called alternative hypothesis in light of the new material,” the judges said in a written judgement delivered in the ACT Supreme Court.
“This reluctance appears to have flowed, at least in part, from a policy position or ‘stance’ in relation to any re-investigation given that Mr Eastman had already been convicted.”
The judges said there was an apparent reluctance on the part of the AFP (Australian Federal Police) to address, in a “serious and professional” manner, the newly available material and its potential significance.
Little is known about the new line of inquiry and an alternative suspect for the Winchester murder.
However, it is known that the information came from a source, giving evidence in a closed hearing, whose safety may be at risk if that person’s name became public.
The federal police have copies of the confidential material which they must now give to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
“It would appear to us, from the confidential material, that the investigation of this material to date may have been unsatisfactory and deficient,” the judges said.
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