GBC Trial Day 19.5 (the weekend)

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Something to get the chat going for the weekend

Baden-Clay murder trial: Large crowds in court evidence of a healthy legal system, top barrister says

11/07/14

Gerard Baden-Clay

The murder trial of Gerard Baden-Clay has seen a ticketing system introduced to prevent overcrowding

The high level of public interest in the Gerard Baden-Clay trial is nothing out of the ordinary, and in fact makes for a healthy legal system, a top barrister says.

The former real estate agent’s murder trial attracted crowds to the Brisbane Supreme Court, with extra courtrooms opened for people who queued day after day to gain entry, and a ticketing system introduced to prevent overcrowding.

The Department of Justice and Attorney-General says these special arrangements for large-scale trials are made to ensure openness and transparency in the justice system.

This transparency is key to keeping Australia’s legal apparatus – everyone from police to barristers and judges – held to account, says Ken Fleming, QC.

Mr Fleming was the defence barrister for former Bundaberg surgeon Jayant Patel and has worked as a United Nations prosecutor on international war crimes trials.

“Everyone should be held accountable for what they’re doing, and the open scrutiny of it is a very important thing,” he said.

“You just can’t have things going on behind closed doors, because that engenders fear of the unknown.”

Mr Fleming says the “whole delivery of justice” depends on high levels of public interest, because people can see and understand the process.

Seeing mystery unravel part of appeal, barrister says

The courts are not, however, in danger of turning into another form of entertainment – rather, they always have been.

“You only have to think about the French Revolution and the guillotining in the forecourt of the Notre Dame,” Mr Fleming said.

Although some people may attend just to see a mystery unravel, he believes many also have a genuine interest in watching the ins and outs of the legal process.

There might be some prurient interest as well, but I think that’s not the major reason people are there.

Ken Fleming, QC

“You only have to look at some of the British television programs to see how we love a good murder mystery,” he said.

“There might be some prurient interest as well, but I think that’s not the major reason people are there.

“They just have a genuine interest in what’s going on.”

Glen Cranny, a defence lawyer and partner at Gilshenan and Luton Lawyers, also believes a high level of public interest is healthy for the criminal justice system generally.

“People might come for any number of reasons, and some might come for mawkish reasons,” he said.

“Nevertheless, I think the benefits of having an open and transparent system … far outweigh any perverse interest some people may get out of such proceedings.”

Public pressure witnesses face may discourage some: lawyer

Publicity and public interest in a case can also encourage other complainants or witnesses to come forward and give evidence, where they may have otherwise been unaware or not confident enough.

Rolf Harris‘s case in England, for example, involved people who were coming forward as complainants once they, I think, had the courage that there were protections and systems in place for their story to be told,” Mr Cranny said.

But this benefit has a flip-side: that very publicity could make people apprehensive about revealing their story.

“I think there is a tipping point where some people might think they could do without their face or name being splashed on TV as a witness, or as a complainant,” Mr Cranny said.

“They would be happy to be involved in the process in a low-key way, but don’t want to be engaged … in anything that might in some way feel like a circus to them.”

Reputational issues should also be factored in, especially when a person’s conduct, while lawful, may not hold them in a good light.

“We’ve seen in a recent high-profile case … a lot of focus on extra-marital affairs and so on,” Mr Cranny said.

“There are people who are involved in those relationships, who haven’t broken the law, but have become very prominent just through their personal lives.”

Mr Fleming says that while public interest could make some people “a bit reluctant”, he had not seen any evidence of public attendance impacting on witnesses.

“It is on display and in a sense it’s theatre,” he said.

“But once people are resigned to the fact that they will be giving evidence, I don’t think too much stands in their way.”

Opening additional courtrooms and keeping the public away from “where the action is happening” also means witnesses are only faced with a very small and confined audience in the main court, Mr Fleming said.

All previous threads and history including trial can be found clicking on link below http://aussiecriminals.com.au/category/gerard-baden-clay/

List of Trial Witnesses as they appear here

ANY EVIDENCE LIKE PHOTOS, VIDEO OR DOCUMENTS THE COURT RELEASES TO THE PUBLIC WILL BE PUBLISHED in the GBC Documents Page

Brisbane Supreme Court Justice John Byrne has asked a jury to retire to consider a verdict in the trial of Gerard Baden-Clay.

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Meet Roger Hall- the spy camera toilet pervert


update 14/07/14 More to come he had dozens of cameras, heaps of pen cameras and other stuff, computers, hard drives, stacks of pen drives. Dirty bastard knew exactly what he was doing! Sentenced but back out on appeal today a BIG JOKE

THREE  well-concealed spy cameras. Seven seized computers. 19 hard drives. 84 data cards. Thousands of image files.

And a long list of victims who may never know their semi-naked bodies were secretly filmed in a cafe bathroom by Roger Hall.

Roger Hall gets a joke of a sentence.Disgusting filthy pervert

Roger Hall gets a joke of a sentence.Disgusting filthy pervert

The 61-year-old was jailed on Friday after pleading guilty to stalking, installing an optical surveillance device, making child porn, knowingly possessing child porn and visually capturing genitalia.

The Geelong Magistrates’ Court heard the married ­retiree hid three spy cameras in the unisex bathroom of a ­Geelong cafe where he was a customer and started systematically and obsessively documenting intimate images of strangers.

The name of the cafe has been suppressed to avoid damaging its reputation.

Hall, a regular customer at the cafe, filmed female staff members getting changed out of school uniforms, ­archived pictures of female genitalia, ­edited some videos to play in slow motion and even compiled images in files matching the victims’ names.

But despite the evidence Hall has maintained there was nothing sexual about his ­offending.

He claimed the cameras were set up to keep tabs on his elderly parents-in-law, who visited the cafe regularly, even though police prosecutor ­Senior-Sergeant Steve Iddles said almost every image was of women under 30.

And there were plenty of images for e-crime police to analyse.

Detectives evaluated just half of the seized items, which also included three pen cam­eras and 51 USBs, and uncovered 1111 video files and 303 images of people using the bathroom.

They also found 313 images and 151 videos of people in and around the cafe, which Hall used to match people’s faces to footage of them in the toilet.

Police also found 32 images of child pornography Hall had got from an external source.

The cafe owner, whose family members work at the cafe, said Hall’s crimes had a devastating affect on her personal relationships. “After this crime, I became very uncomfortable around my own husband and any other male,” she said in a victim ­impact statement.

“I get angry that I didn’t know what was happening so I could protect them from the ­violation I now feel.

“I now find myself not trusting anyone except for my family. I now look at most people and question what they are doing.”

As Hall sat in the front row, occasionally nodding at the evidence presented to the court and at other times staring at the floor and rocking, his wife of 29 years sat in the back row quietly crying.

When magistrate Ron ­Saines read out Hall’s sentence — 15 months in prison suspended after six — she burst into loud wails. As her husband was led into the dock she grabbed his hand and when she was led out of court she tearfully blew him a kiss.

Hall lived six decades without being in trouble with the law. He had held down a job and gained a university degree.

But, according to defence lawyer Michael Brugman, at some point “something broke in his mind”.

When handing down his sentence, Mr Saines said Hall was unlikely to reoffend, had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity, cooperated with police and expressed sincere remorse.

He also conceded his anx­iety and depression were likely to worsen in custody but said the courts had a responsibility to denounce his behaviour in the strongest possible terms.

The only option, Mr Saines said, was to send him to prison.

“The general view of people in the community, but particularly women, would describe the conduct of the accused as highly depraved and indeed revolting,” Mr Saines said.

“The law is clear the courts must hold protection of the public as the most important objective.”

Hall will remain in prison until January 2015.

Hundreds of people captured on spy cam in Geelong cafe’s unisex bathroom

Court

Roger Hall pleaded guilty to setting up a spy camera in a Belmont cafe’s toilet.

 

A MAN who hid three spy cameras in the unisex toilet of a Geelong cafe had captured thousands of images of people using the toilet and female staff getting changed, a court has heard.

Roger Hall, 61, from Grovedale, pleaded guilty at Geelong Magistrates Court yesterday to stalking, installing an optical surveillance device, producing child pornography, knowingly possess child porn and visually capture a person’s genitalia.

Prosecutor Senior-Sergeant Steve Iddles said a video camera was found under the basin in the toilet on May 9 last year.

A police search also ­uncovered two cameras strapped under a toilet cistern in the bathroom, which was used by staff and patrons.

When Hall, a cafe regular, attended the venue later that day he was questioned by police and made full admissions to owning the cameras.

But he said they were to keep an eye on elderly in-laws, who had recently had falls.

A search of his house and car led police to seize three pen cameras, six computers, 19 hard drives, 51 USB sticks, 82 data cards, 14 digital recording devices and a large number of DVDs and CDs.

Sen-Sgt Iddles said police in the e-crime squad assessed only half the content and still found 1111 videos of people using the toilet as well as hundreds of images and other videos from around the cafe.

“Nearly all of the file subjects were female and appeared to be aged between 15 and 30 years of age,” he said.

“In a number of the files the subject was a child aged as young as three or four.

“In many instances the subject’s genitalia can be clearly seen.”

Sen-Sgt Iddles said as a result of viewing the material one officer with 20 years’ ­experience had to seek counselling and take time off work.

Defence lawyer Michael Brugman said Hall was deeply ashamed of his behaviour.

“He has wanted to be given an opportunity to say he is sorry and express his remorse,” Mr Brugman said.

“He has come to understand and believe that something broke in his mind.”

He said his client, who has been married for 29 years, had undiagnosed mental health ­issues but was now receiving medical help.

Magistrate Ron Saines ­adjourned the matter for sentencing on July 11.

Sex abuse royal commission: Prosecutor defends using question of 12-year-old’s breasts in legal advice in Scott Volkers case


Updated 10 hours 41 minutes ago

A senior NSW prosecutor has defended using the question of whether 12-year-old girls have breasts to back up her finding that there was little chance former Olympic swimming coach Scott Volkers would be convicted of sex abuse charges.

In 2002 Volkers was charged with a range of sexual abuse offences relating to three young female swimmers – Julie Gilbert, Kylie Rogers and Simone Boyce – but those charges were later dropped.

A royal commission into child sex abuse is currently examining how sports bodies and top prosecutors handled the allegations.

Queensland Police reopened the case against Mr Volkers in December 2002.

In December 2003, Queensland‘s Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) sought the advice of the NSW DPP as to whether the new brief of evidence supporting the allegations had reasonable prospects of conviction.

The NSW DPP, Nicholas Cowdery QC, tasked deputy senior crown prosecutor Margaret Cunneen SC with preparing the advice.

In her advice, Ms Cunneen questioned whether the charges against Mr Volkers had a reasonable chance of success because it was legitimate to ask – following Ms Gilbert’s assertions that Mr Volkers had massaged her breasts – whether 12-year-old swimmers even had breasts.

At the royal commission on Thursday, Ms Cunneen said that was still a valid question for a jury to consider.

“If a defence counsel could raise a doubt that there was any palpable breast tissue, through the clothing of course, then we’d be in trouble trying to say that she had breasts,” she said.

On Tuesday, Ms Gilbert told the ABC’s 7.30 program Ms Cunneen’s questions regarding her allegations were deeply hurtful.

Advice based on whether jury would accept evidence: Cunneen

The counsel assisting the commission, Gail Furness SC, also asked Ms Cunneen whether it was fair to say she does not resile from her original advice to the Queensland DPP regarding any conviction being unlikely.

“I take it from the terms of [your] statement Ms Cunneen that you don’t resile in any way from the advice you gave in 2004 in relation to Mr Volkers?” she said.

Ms Cunneen answered that she stands by the advice.

Scott Volkers

“Bearing in mind it was 2004 and that maybe [there are] some considerations in relation to juries being more amenable in 2014,” she said.

“We were probably only two-thirds of the way through the evolution, in terms of public knowledge and acceptance of child sexual assault cases then.

“But no, I don’t resile from the advice at all.”

She told the commission the credibility of the three alleged abuse victims was not in question, rather she was questioning whether a jury would accept their evidence.

“Sexual assaults are harder to prove than murders and robberies because it so often comes down to one word against another,” she said.

“The judge would tell [the jury] ‘probably is not enough, the gravest suspicion is not enough, you have to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that that happened’.”

Volkers was exempt from holding blue card: inquiry

Earlier, the commission heard Mr Volkers was exempt from holding a blue card in Queensland, despite the fact his application was rejected.

He applied for the blue card – which is needed for working with children – along with about 60 other employees from the Queensland Academy of Sport in mid-2008.

The royal commission heard Mr Volkers’ application was the only one to be issued with a negative notice and his application for a blue card was rejected.

The director of Queensland’s blue card system, Michelle Miller, told the inquiry the recommendation to reject Mr Volkers’ application was handed down before it was decided he was exempt from the requirement to hold a blue card because he was a government employee.

On Wednesday, Swimming Queensland chief executive Kevin Hasemann agreed to review Mr Volkers’ status as a life member of the organisation and a Hall of Famer.

Mr Hasemann admitted to the commission he did not investigate the allegations against Mr Volkers before employing him.

The hearing continues.

Harley Hicks-baby killer gets life


Harley Hicks trial: day by day

GALLERY: The Harley Hicks trial

Sentence will never end family’s pain: A look back and the trial and what couldn’t be told

10am: JUSTICE Stephen Kaye has begun addressing the Supreme Court as he prepares to deliver his sentence for baby killer Harley Hicks.

10.12am: Justice Kaye said what Hicks did in Zayden’s room when he killed him with considerable violence was clear ‘but what is unclear is why you did it’.

10.16am: Justice Kaye said the full account of the injuries to Zayden was harrowing to say the least.

He said he could only imagine the heartbreak of Zayden’s mother, Casey Veal, and those who loved Zayden.

10.18am: Justice Kaye said Hicks struck the fatal blows because he ‘specifically intended to kill him’.

10.23am: Justice Kaye said Hicks put up an innocent man as a false killer ‘in order to save your skin’.

10.24am: ‘Your offending places this case in the worst cases of murder that come before this court. The life of a baby is particularly special and precious. What you did was totally and utterly evil,’ Justice Kaye said.

10.28am: Justice Kaye said ‘You have shown no remorse for what you have done’.

10.33am: Justice Kaye said ‘At no stage of the trial could I detect from you any sign of remorse’.

Justice Kaye said he observed Hicks during the trial and he showed no indication of any pity for the baby or the family.

10.37am: Justice Kaye says of particular concern was Hicks’ criminal history and escalating violence.

‘There are other victims of your crime who have suffered and continue to suffer,’ Justice Kaye said.

10.40am: The English language is ‘entirely inadequate’ to describe their grief and anguish, Justice Kaye said.

10.41am: Justice Kaye quotes Zayden’s mother’s victim impact statement that says, ‘I miss Zayden each second of each day. Words cannot describe the pain I feel for both my sons.

‘I am serving a life sentence .. all I have is memories and most of them are tainted by this crime.’

Justice Kaye quotes father James Whitting’s impact statement:

‘The tragic and needless loss of my son Zayden devastated us all. I don’t even know where to begin to express the pain in my heart.’

10.43am: Justice Kaye says he quoted the statements to show the ‘indescribable grief and pain as a direct consequence of the crime’.

10.46am: Justice Kaye said Hicks used alcohol and drugs from a young age and methyl amphetamine on a regular basis since 2011.

10.48am: Justice Kaye says Hicks did not always comply with conditions ordering him to get help for his addictions.

10.51am: Justice Kaye said Hicks did not have a psychiatric disorder but his personal history showed he suffered behavioural disorders from an early age, compounded by his family life, sexual abuse and long standing abuse of alcohol and drugs.

10.52am: Justice Kaye says Hicks shows poor prospects for rehabilitation.

10.53am: ‘You are a danger to the community. Especially to the defenceless and vulnerable members of it’, Justice Kaye says.

10.54am: ‘There’s a real need to protect the community from you’, Justice Kaye says.

10.56am: ‘All human life is sacrosanct but the community places special value on the innocent and the lives who are young and vulnerable,’ Justice Kaye says.

11am:  ‘The primary victim of your crime was a helpless defenceless infant,’ but Justice Kaye says he must consider Hicks’ age.

11.01am: Harley Hicks sentenced to life in prison.

11.02am: Harley Hicks sentenced to life in prison with a minimum non-parole period of 32 years.

11.06am: Hicks has been removed from court.

File picture: Harley Hicks.

File picture: Harley Hicks.

Justice Kaye said Hicks ‘unleashed a ferocious attack on Zayden’ that night and the prosecution’s case was very powerful.

Extra security is in place outside the Bendigo court ahead of Harley Hicks' sentencing today. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

Extra security is in place outside the Bendigo court ahead of Harley Hicks’ sentencing today. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

Extra security is in place outside the Bendigo court ahead of Harley Hicks’ sentence today.

Hicks, 21, of Long Gully, was found guilty by a Supreme Court jury in April of murdering Bendigo baby Zayden Veal-Whitting.

Hicks was out committing a series of burglaries overnight on June 14/15, 2012, when he entered Zayden’s Eaglehawk Road home and bludgeoned the 10-month-old to death with a home-made baton.

More to come.

He was just a baby. A tiny, perfect little baby.

A baby growing too quickly into a little boy… but a little boy who was never given the chance to become one.

A little boy who had never celebrated a birthday. Never played in mud puddles or raced to the gate to greet his mum or dad after work.

Harley Hicks taken from court after the jury convicted him of murder in April.Harley Hicks taken from court after the jury convicted him of murder in April.

Read all about the the trial at the Bendigo Advertiser

He had taken his first few steps, but never run his first race. He hadn’t had much time to wrestle his brother, choose a favourite football team or line his parents’ walls with art.

He barely had time to live.

Zayden Veal

Zayden Veal Photo: Supplied

Because on one horrific night in June 2012, a monster entered his home and bludgeoned him to death.

The helpless, beautiful little boy was struck 25 times to the face and at least eight times to the head with a blunt instrument as he lay in his cot. The baby monitor was turned off in the minutes before or after the killing, and his blankets were placed up to his nose before his killer left him to die. He could have already been dead.

Weeks later, that instrument was found to be a home-made baton made of copper wire and electrical tape – and it was covered in the little boy’s DNA.

It was also covered in DNA that matched his killer.

Almost two years after 10-month-old Zayden Veal-Whitting was killed, Harley Hicks will this week be sentenced for his murder.

He is yet to tell the court why he stole the life of a helpless baby – and has shown no remorse for the brutal killing.

On the morning of June 15, 2012, Bendigo woke to a tragedy beyond comprehension.

What started as a report to police of a burglary at an Eaglehawk Road home was quickly followed by a desperate call to paramedics to help revive a child.  As investigators were called to the scene, tongues were already wagging and finding reasons to place blame. But blame in all the wrong areas.

Casey Veal had just found her beautiful little boy beaten to death in his cot. Her then partner Mathew Tisell heard her chilling scream and ran to help.

As Zayden was taken to hospital, police tape was put around his home on Eaglehawk Road. It became a crime scene.

Zayden’s father received a call to go to the hospital. He had no idea why, but the house where Zayden was staying with his mother and then stepfather was on the way. James and his mother Anne drove past the police tape. They had no idea what had taken place. No one did.

It was at the hospital James was told by a social worker she was sorry for the loss of his son. He was lost. Shattered. Confused. James still didn’t know what had happened, or which son had died.

Casey didn’t have the answers, other than what she had woken to find their baby bruised and limp.

Her house had been burgled and their son had been killed.

James knew neither Casey nor Matt were responsible for the death – but who was?

The microscope was on anyone who had any association with the Eaglehawk Road home.

But as the family came together in the hospital to learn the shocking and heartbreaking news, police started receiving reports of a number of burglaries in the Long Gully area on the night of Zayden’s death.

More reports would follow in the next few days.

There were similarities at many, including the burglary at Eaglehawk Road.

That was when police turned their attention to known offenders in the area – and their intelligence turned them to Green Street – the home of Harley Hicks.

An initial warrant allowed police to search for stolen goods by known thieves living at the address on June 17.

They were looking for goods stolen from properties throughout Bendigo and Long Gully on June 14/15.

Even the most experienced investigators were confronted by the filth they saw during that search.

But among the rubbish they found a set top box stolen from a property across the road from the Eaglehawk Road home where Zayden was killed, which put one of the occupants of the house in the area at the time of the burglaries and the death.

Each of the occupants was interviewed, but Hicks had already fled Bendigo, leaving for Gisborne the day after Zayden’s murder, a day earlier than planned.

The Victoria Police Homicide Squad believed Hicks was ‘merely a person of interest’ because he was a known burglar and stolen goods were found at his address, so they set about finding him.

Hicks was in Gisborne with his then-girlfriend Martina at that stage – searching the burglaries and the baby’s death on the internet. He had also cut up his tracksuit.

When Martina told him she had received a phone call to say the police were looking for him, Hicks fled. He spent the night at the Gisborne football oval, before phoning his father John Hicks the following day.

Police received information to say John was travelling to Gisborne to collect his son and return to Bendigo on June 19, so detectives set up an intercept at Big Hill.

It was there that Hicks was arrested, while hiding in the rear seat of his father’s car.

At that stage he was only a suspect for the burglary at Eaglehawk Road.

But it was from that moment, the pieces started coming together for investigators – and it was Hicks himself who gave it away.

He soon became a person of interest regarding the death of Zayden, but there was still nothing that put him in the house.

From the minute he was arrested on the Calder Highway, Hicks immediately put up a false killer. He started shooting off at the mouth, telling police from the outset he was with another man on the night of the burglaries. Naming an innocent man as being with him that night.

Over three days, Hicks told the story of being out that night with that man and parting ways when they got to Eaglehawk Road.

That man was arrested on June 19, but there was a problem with Hicks’ story. He had an iron-clad alibi. He was never out that night with Harley Hicks. He did not commit any burglaries and did not kill Zayden.

That information led police to a second search of the Green Street address.

This time they found a wallet reported stolen by Mr Tisell in a car outside the home of the Hicks brothers, which the occupants used for ‘storage’ – and, they found a baton. It was still some time before that baton was connected to the killing.

Throughout the trial, Hicks’ brothers tried to say that instrument was used as a dog’s chew toy, but there was no evidence a dog had been anywhere near it. Martina, however, had seen that baton hidden behind a picture frame. It was the murder weapon.

Hicks was not questioned over the murder, but on the morning of June 21, he offered a plea of guilty without admission to a series of thefts, burglaries and attempted burglaries overnight on June 14 and 15 – 11 matters in total, but excluding that at Eaglehawk Road.

He also pleaded guilty to 10 other offences relating to thefts and burglaries committed prior to that night.

Hicks was sentenced to 12 months’ youth detention.

Those pleas were excluded from the Supreme Court murder trial because Hicks’ defence successfully argued it would be unfair to have them admitted in circumstances where he pleaded guilty to avoid being remanded in custody in an adult prison.

Hicks told his legal team he didn’t want to go adult prison because of an allegation of sexual assault he had previously made against an inmate at Port Phillip Prison. He wanted the matter finalised that day so he would more than likely go into youth detention.

Hicks admitted an attempted burglary at 23 Duncan Street, a burglary at 30 Wilson Street and the theft from a vehicle in Jackson Street, where the set top box was stolen, but denied any involvement with the other offences that night at Dillon, Bray and Bolt streets and Havilah Road. His defence team said he pleaded guilty to all matters, knowing that if the matter was adjourned he would be remanded in adult custody because of outstanding matters before the court.

Hicks’ defence lawyer David Hallowes further submitted that if the pleas of guilty were admitted in the trial, his lawyer would need to be called as a witness and that would reveal that Hicks had previously spent time in an adult jail, which would be prejudicial to his client.

Crown prosecutor Michele Williams SC argued Hicks knew what he was doing and did not dispute or deny any of the allegations in the police summary. She said Hicks was familiar with the legal system having had previous court appearances in other criminal matters and was looking after his own interests.

In ruling against allowing the pleas of guilty to all matters during the murder trial, Justice Stephen Kaye said the decision was not clear cut as Hicks knew precisely the charges brought against him and there was no evidence of any misconception or misunderstanding.

But he said Hicks was a young man with a pressing reason for not wanting to return to adult custody and based on the admissions he had made during his interview with police, there was a strong likelihood he would have been given a custodial sentence.

Justice Kaye said Hicks’ lawyer at the time did not have sufficient information to properly advise her client as he had entered the guilty pleas so quickly after a three-day interview with police and the police brief had not been compiled.

He said there were significant questions as to the reliability of the pleas of guilty as truthful admissions by Hicks of his guilt and it seemed clear he pleaded guilty by way of expediency rather than because he admitted the allegations against him were true.

On June 21, 2012, Hicks was sent to a youth detention centre for the thefts and burglaries. But the investigation into the murder of a child continued.

Hicks by now was a suspect. He had put up lies about being with another man that night and a wallet belonging to Zayden’s then stepfather was found at Hicks’ address.

His three-day interview with police, and time spent in the holding cells with an undercover police operative, revealed information only the killer would know.

In the pre-trial arguments, Hicks’ defence team tried to have the record of interview excluded from the murder trial, but their request was denied.

Sitting in his office reviewing the evidence some weeks after Hicks was sent to youth detention, Detective Senior Constable Tony Harwood of the homicide squad compared baby Zayden’s injuries with a baton collected during a search of Green Street. It was sent for forensic tests. There was a match.

One end of the baton was covered in Zayden’s DNA – the other carried the DNA of Harley Hicks.

So too, did the stolen set top box – stolen from a property Hicks had admitted being at on the night of the killing.

On September 24, 2012, Harley Hicks appeared briefly in the Melbourne Magistrates Court charged with murder. He later entered a plea of not guilty.

When his first lie about a false killer didn’t work, Hicks turned to the DNA evidence as his defence.

The trouble with the DNA was that Hicks had an identical twin, and identical twins have identical DNA.

As that fact was told to the Supreme Court by a forensic officer, Harley winked at Detective Harwood from the dock. It was a glimpse of the cockiness shown during his record of interview with police.

But that argument only pointed further to his guilt.

Harley’s twin, Ashley Hicks, also had an alibi. Despite the defence team doing its best to ask the question as to just which twin killed the baby, Ashley’s alibi stacked up.

He was at home with his father that night. John Hicks supported his son’s story.

Ashley didn’t kill Zayden.

Harley Hicks did.

The court was told was that Hicks was out committing a series of burglaries overnight on June 14/15, 2012, when he entered 10-month-old Zayden’s home and killed him. No one knows why, but the prosecution put to the jury that it was possible the baby woke and Hicks needed to silence him to avoid being caught stealing from the house. He had ‘hit the jackpot’ Ms Williams said, finding almost $2000 in cash, and did not want to be detected.

Earlier in the night, Hicks told his brother Josh, Josh’s girlfriend Danielle and Martina he was heading out. Over his shoulder was a black bag. Josh said his brother always carried that shoulder bag. The same bag described by a couple who chased a man from their yard about midnight. The chase during which Hicks would lose his shoes.

Martina would later tell the court Hicks left twice that night, once to buy drugs, and later again.

The jury heard Hicks told police he was on the shard that night; crystal methamphetamine, known as ice.

But he said the man he was out with that night – the false killer he put up – had been using the methamphetamine ice and was “really, really aggressive … scary aggressive”.

The prosecution said Hicks was actually talking about himself.

But the jury couldn’t be told the extent of Hicks’ habit – and for how long he had been a drug user.

Hicks’ history includes years of repeated drug abuse, including cannabis, heroin, ecstasy, alcohol and ice.

Nor could the jury be told of his priors, which were escalating.

They knew Hicks was already on the run from police that night. Indeed, only three days earlier officers had gone to his home looking for him.

But the jury didn’t know Hicks had a long criminal history, which started at the age of 14, and included thefts, criminal damage, aggravated burglary and armed robbery.

The murder and series of burglaries and thefts were committed two months after Hicks was placed on a Community Corrections Order for armed robbery.

But on this night, Hicks was still stealing whatever he could from easily accessible places – glove boxes in unlocked cars, and houses.

The back door at Eaglehawk Road could not be locked.

But because his earlier pleas of guilty to those offences in the Magistrates Court, excluding the burglary at Eaglehawk Road, could not be admitted during the trial, Detective Harwood had to reinvestigate each one.

He needed fresh evidence during the Supreme Court trial – but led to a hiccup in proceedings.

The chase where he lost his shoes was pivotal. So too, were his movements afterwards – and just what was he wearing on his feet?

Martina reported Hicks was wearing a pair of motorcycle boots the day the pair left for Gisborne on June 15. She had never seen them before and they were far too big for him.

But the occupants at a house in Dillon Street burgled on June 14/15, 2012, knew the boots only too well, as they belonged to them.

But it wasn’t until a fresh statement was made by the Dillon Street occupants on March 13 this year that the boots were reported stolen that night. It was two weeks into the murder trial.

The prosecution then sought to have the boots admitted as evidence so the sole could be compared to a footprint on a couch in the rear yard of the Eaghlehawk Road home where Zayden was killed.

That new piece of evidence brought the trial to a standstill.

Sixteen prosecution witnesses had already been called and the trial was well-advanced.

A day was set aside for legal argument, during which the defence put to Justice Kaye that the evidence had come to light late in the trial and the prosecution had opened the case stating no link could be drawn between a mark on the couch, which had been pushed by the residents at the property against a fence, and the accused man.

Mr Hallowes said the prosecution had access to the boots before the trial and knew Hicks was wearing them from June 15 to 18.

He said had the boots been tendered as evidence earlier, the defence may have approached the case differently and cross-examined witnesses in another manner.

Justice Kaye agreed the evidence was produced late in the trial and whilst he accepted the statement from the Dillon Street resident might have prompted investigators to look at the link, there was sufficient evidence to draw the link beforehand.

In his ruling, Justice Kaye said it was “a pity this has come to pass’’.

“I am loathe, in a case like this, to shut out evidence of this type and I certainly do not wish to be critical but the fact is little new has emerged. The police had the boots in their possession, they had a cut out of the print, they had Martina Lawn’s evidence in relation to her understanding that the boots had been stolen that night and the matter was raised by Mr Hallowes at the committal. In addition, we had two weeks of pre-trial argument for the Crown to consider issues such as this. It is not my role to punish or criticise the prosecution, but in weighing up the fairness of excluding it, it is a factor that must be taken into account.

“Fundamentally,  my role is to ensure that the accused man receives a fair trial. In my view, as I have stated, there would be strong prejudice to the accused in the conduct of the trial if were to admit the evidence.

“No direction given by me could allay that prejudice before the jury. I am of the view that prejudice does outweigh any probative value of the evidence and so I have come to the inevitable conclusion that I must exclude it.’’

Few could argue Hicks wasn’t afforded a fair trial.

The law dictates all accused persons are entitled to the presumption of innocence – and that must be the starting point. It was up to the prosecution to prove Hicks guilty.

The ruling about the boots was made and the trial continued.

But at the same time, something changed.

In the early days of the five-week trial, Hicks took notes. Pages and pages of colour-coded scrawl. Some in red, other lines in blue. He seemed to be paying attention. But as the trial went into days and weeks, the notes slowly stopped. His attention was sporadic and on one occasion, he could be heard snoring in the dock. A break in proceedings was called before the jurors picked up on his nap – but there’s no doubt some would have noticed.

This jury was astute. The prosecution, defence and Justice Kaye spoke several times of the particularly careful and observant group that formed the jury.

A jury charged with the responsibility of a harrowing trial. A jury charged with taking everything in.

And they did.

They would have known each time Hicks started shaking – a shake of the leg that became louder and louder each time evidence linking him to the murder was put before the court. The shaking alone told a powerful story – he was nervous, and more so at certain times. They would have noticed.

And they certainly noticed the antics of Hicks’ supporters in court. The interaction between Hicks and his brother in the witness box, which attracted a caution. The note-taking by Hicks’ fiancee,  who followed witnesses from the courtroom – actions that came close to having her found in contempt of court.

They would not have known about the stern warning given by Justice Kaye to Hicks’ mum about posting photos of her son in the dock on Facebook – but that would have been the exception.

This jury didn’t miss a trick, and there were a few of them.

But importantly, they never lost a sense of why they were there – and that was to deliver a verdict in a trial involving the horrific, violent death of a baby.

They listened to, and considered, every piece of evidence. They questioned. They asked for breaks when everyone grew tired. It was exhausting.

But they also watched a family sitting in the courtroom in the hope of justice being served for their beautiful little boy. They were told to separate emotion and look at the facts, which they did. But there was no doubt they were well aware of the trust Zayden’s family put in them to do that properly.

Little Zayden’s family attended court every day. Their heads would fall every time a new piece of distressing evidence was put to the court, but their strength kept them there.

No one in court could ever properly express just how brave that family was.

The brave mother who told her story of finding her baby beaten to death in his cot.

The last time she saw her son alive was when she gave him a bottle and helped him re-settle. He had a cold and needed some medication.

The next day her little boy’s injuries brought the most hardened police and paramedics to tears.

A brave father and his partner who never got to hold their little boy and say goodbye. Who listened to every word said to defend their son’s killer.

A father who remembers a little boy who only a day before he died said the word dad for the first time.

Grandparents equally heartbroken and robbed of the love of a small child who was their world.

The pain of the trial ended for them when the jury delivered a guilty verdict. Today, Justice Kaye will hand down his sentence.

The legal process will be over. Hicks will be sentenced for his heinous crime.

But there will never, ever be justice for baby Zayden, or those who loved him.

This tragedy does not end with Zayden’s death. It does not end with a verdict, or a sentence. It will ever end for those he is survived by. Their pain will never, ever end.


 

The Harley Hicks trial – the case day by day

THE HARLEY HICKS TRIAL – DAY 1…

Supreme Court trial begins

A BENDIGO baby was struck at least 25 times to the head and killed with a home-made baton during a burglary at his Long Gully home, the Victorian Supreme Court has heard. Read full story here

THE HARLEY HICKS TRIAL - DAY 2…

Mother tells of moment she found her baby covered in blood

THE mother of a Bendigo baby bludgeoned to death in his cot has told the Supreme Court of the harrowing moment she found her son limp and covered in blood. Read full story here

THE HARLEY HICKS TRIAL - DAY 3…

Twin brother says he was at home on night of Bendigo baby murder

THE twin brother of accused man Harley Hicks says he was at home the night baby Zayden Veal-Whitting was killed and did not commit the murder. Read fully story here 

Mum’s partner says he ‘loved those boys’

THE partner of Casey Veal has told the Supreme Court he loved Ms Veal’s children and did not kill baby Zayden. Read full story here

THE HARLEY HICKS TRIAL - DAY 4…

I saw baton in Harley’s bedroom: Witness

THE older brother of Harley Hicks has told the court he saw a baton on the floor of the bedroom of the accused man several days after baby Zayden Veal-Whitting was found bludgeoned to death in his cot. Read full story here

THE HARLEY HICKS TRIAL – DAY 5…

Hicks trial hears of backyard intruder

Accused seen leaving house wearing grey hoodie and carrying bag. Witness tells of backyard intruder. Read full storyhere

THE HARLEY HICKS TRIAL – DAY 6… 

Questions raised about twin’s alibi

QUESTIONS have been raised about the alibi of the twin brother of the man accused of murdering baby Zayden Veal-Whitting on the night of the child’s death. Read full story here 

THE HARLEY HICKS TRIAL – DAY 7…

Hicks trial: Twin brother was home that night, court hears

THE twin brother of the man accused of murdering baby Zayden Veal-Whitting was at home on the night of the child’s death, the father of Harley and Ashley Hicks has told the Supreme Court. Read full story here

Weapon was not focus of search

POLICE were not looking for a murder weapon the first time they searched the residence of the man accused of murdering baby Zayden Veal-Whitting, the Supreme Court has heard. Full story here

THE HARLEY HICKS TRIAL – DAY 8…

Ex girlfriend was too scared to tell police what she saw

THE former girlfriend of the man accused of murdering baby Zayden Veal-Whitting has told the Supreme Court she was too scared to tell police what she saw in the days that followed the baby’s death. Full story here

THE HARLEY HICKS TRIAL – DAY 9…

Stolen wallet links to baton

A WALLET and identification cards belonging to the stepfather of baby Zayden Veal-Whitting were found in a car at the home of the man accused of the child’s murder, the Supreme Court has heard. Read full story here

THE HARLEY HICKS TRIAL – DAY 10….

Court hears Hicks tell of burglaries and ICE

THE man accused of murdering baby Zayden Veal-Whitting told an undercover police officer he had been on ICE and was committing burglaries the night the child was killed. Full story here

DNA on baton matches accused man

A HOME-MADE baton alleged to be the weapon used to kill a 10-month-old baby was found carrying DNA matching the man accused of the murder, the Supreme Court has heard. Read full story here

THE HARLEY HICKS TRIAL – DAY 11…

No blood on baton: expert

A HOME-MADE baton which prosecutors allege was used to bludgeon a baby to death did not have traces of blood, a court has heard. Full story here

THE HARLEY HICKS TRIAL – DAY 12..

Defence questions search

THE defence counsel of the man accused of murdering Long Gully baby Zayden Veal-Whitting has questioned how thoroughly police searched for a murder weapon. Full story here

THE HARLEY HICKS TRIAL – DAY 13..

Detective links baton with baby’s injuries

THE detective  responsible for the investigation into the killing of Zayden Veal-Whitting says the discovery of a home-made baton alleged by the Crown to be the murder weapon was a “chance finding’’. Full story here

Crown gives closing address in Hicks trial. 

THE Crown is giving its closing address in the Supreme Court in the hope of proving beyond reasonable doubt the accused man Harley Hicks killed baby Zayden Veal-Whitting. Read full story here

THE HARLEY HICKS TRIAL – DAY 14…

Crown says case is ‘jigsaw’

PROSECUTORS have told a Supreme Court jury the case against the man accused of murdering Long Gully baby Zayden Veal-Whitting is like a jigsaw puzzle. Read full story here

THE HARLEY HICKS TRIAL – DAY 15…

‘False killer’ story is about Hicks, Crown says

THE crown says a story made up about a ‘false killer’ by the man accused of murdering baby Zayden Veal-Whitting was actually his own story. Full story here

Hicks jury asked to put aside prejudice

THE jury has been asked to put aside any prejudice against the man accused of murdering baby Zayden Veal-Whitting and judge the case against him on the evidence. Full story here

THE HARLEY HICKS TRIAL – DAY 16…

Hicks told lies to protect: defence

A SUPREME Court jury has been asked to consider the possibility Harley Hicks told lies to protect someone else, possibly his twin brother. Read full story here

THE HARLEY HICKS TRIAL – DAY 17…

Defence says baton was murder weapon

LAWYERS defending the man accused of murdering baby Zayden Veal-Whitting have ruled out the child’s stepfather as a possible ‘other’ for causing the death – but have put to the Supreme Court that Harley Hicks is covering for someone. Read full story here

THE HARLEY HICKS TRIAL – DAY 18…

Hicks defence says evidence doesn’t fit

THE defence team representing Harley Hicks says there are five key pieces evidence that don’t fit with the prosecution’s case the accused man killed Zayden Veal-Whitting. Read full story here

THE VERDICT: 

Harley Hicks found guilty of murder. Full coverage here

Hicks guilty of baby murder. Read story here

A liar, a thief and a killer

Hicks’ mum breached judge’s order

Woman cautioned in Hicks trial for following witnesses out of court

Jury asks questions about Hicks coaching brother in witness box

EDITORIAL: Thoughts are with Zayden’s family.

Zayden’s family tells of heavy hearts

THE family of Zayden Veal-Whitting doesn’t want to live in a world of hate – but that intense and deep emotion blankets them because of the “monster’’ who killed their little boy. Read full story here

The plea hearing

Crown calls for life sentence for baby killer in plea hearing in the Supreme Court.

Mother’s plea to drug users

Mother of baby Zayden Veal-Whitting wants son’s killer to stay behind bars for life … and makes plea to ice users to think of her little boy and give up the drug. Read full story here

Hicks to be sentenced

Harley Hicks will be sentenced on June 13. Full story here

Galleries: 

GALLERY: The Harley Hicks trial

GALLERY: The committal

GALLERY: The trial

GALLERY: Exhibits tendered during the trial

George Pell-Royal Commission to inquire into the Catholic Church and Towards Healing


OMG I have been watching Cardinal Pell’s live evidence all day and seriously, he needs to get to confession. Lying his brain off and justifying everything in favour of the church.

I did want to stay out of these religion relation Royal Commission hearings but can not. AS a survivor of sexual abuse by the catholic church I dry reach listening to him.

LIVE LINK HERE http://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/public-hearings/case-study-march-2014/

UPDATE 26/03/14 The Cardinal had a second day in the hot seat and was no better trying to defend the indefensible

George Pell tells sex abuse royal commission case against John Ellis was unfair ‘from a Christian point of view’

Updated 2 minutes ago

Cardinal George Pell says that from a “Christian point of view”, the Church did not deal fairly with former altar boy and sex abuse victim John Ellis.

Mr Ellis was abused by a priest in the 1970s, but lost a legal battle in 2007 when the Court of Appeal ruled the Catholic Church was not an entity that could be sued.

Cardinal Pell, Australia’s most senior Catholic cleric, is giving evidence at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Sydney.

He said although lawyers never acted improperly, he had “moral doubts” and believed the case was mishandled from a spiritual perspective.”Any reservations I might have about particular stands of our lawyers, I would not want to suggest that they did anything improper,” he told the hearing.

“But from my point of view, from a Christian point of view, leaving aside the legal dimension, I don’t think we did deal fairly.”

Cardinal Pell said that he endorsed the aggressive strategies of the church’s lawyers, who were instructed to “resist” Mr Ellis’s claim, despite the fact that he believed Mr Ellis.

“Part of that wording, ‘vigorously’ or ‘strenuously’, was, at least in my mind, an attempt to encourage people not to go into litigation,” Cardinal Pell told the hearing.

Counsel assisting the commission Gail Furness questioned the Cardinal’s stance.

“So by having a vigorous defence, that would show potential plaintiffs that they should think twice before litigating against the church?” she asked.

“That they should think clearly,” Cardinal Pell responded.

Cardinal Pell said victims should settle the matters outside court.

In a statement to the commission, Cardinal Pell apologised to Mr Ellis for the abuse committed by Father Aidan Duggan.

Cardinal Pell admitted endorsing a decision not to enter mediation at the time the legal action began, but now concedes that was a mistake.

“I could have. I regret that I didn’t. As a general rule, though, I handed over the carriage of the case to our legal advisers and I should have been more vigilant,” he said.

Before the case Mr Ellis asked for $100,000 but was offered $30,000.

The court costs far exceeded Mr Ellis’s original request for compensation.

The Cardinal said at the time the legal action commenced in 2004, he was mistaken about Mr Ellis.

“He presented so well. He’s such a senior lawyer; he was represented by two very high-profile lawyers,” Cardinal Pell said.

“I understood insufficiently just how wounded he was.

I understood insufficiently just how wounded he was.

Cardinal George Pell

“We would never have run this case against many of the victims who came forward because they’re manifestly so wounded.

“That was not apparent to me at this stage.”

During the litigation, Cardinal Pell expressed concern to his colleagues about exacerbating the victim’s psychiatric condition.

He was today asked whether he was actually attempting to avoid bad publicity as a result of the case.

“That was always one of my concerns, yes, but it was not my first concern,” he said.

Cardinal Pell has denied being involved in the day-to-day running of the legal battle with Mr Ellis.

A second man came forward with a complaint about the priest during the litigation

Cardinal Pell admits that would have strengthened Mr Ellis’s case, but said he did not discuss it with the lawyers.

The hearing continues.

Cardinal George Pell says he was not involved in discussions on compensation payments

George Pell says Vatican treated abuse accusers as ‘enemies of the church

George Pell says Vatican treated abuse accusers as ‘enemies of the church

Cardinal George Pell has told a royal commission into child sexual abuse he was not involved in discussions about compensation for a victim who sued the Catholic Church and lost.

The former archbishop of Sydney, Australia’s highest-ranking Catholic, is giving evidence in front of a packed public gallery at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Sydney.

Today he was questioned about his part in the Church’s legal battle with John Ellis, who was abused by Sydney priest Father Aidan Duggan in the 1970s.

The former altar boy lost his case in 2007, when the New South Wales Court of Appeal ruled the Church was not a legal entity that could be sued – the so-called Ellis defence.

Catholic officials have said Cardinal Pell knew about Mr Ellis’s compensation request, but say he instructed the Church’s lawyers to defend the case vigorously.

Last week Cardinal Pell’s private secretary, Dr Michael Casey, told the commission Cardinal Pell had directed the legal team to be aggressive in its cross-examination.

Today Cardinal Pell said the legal battle had been “hard fought, perhaps too well fought by our legal representatives”.

“I would now say, looking back, that these legal measures, although effective, were disproportionate to the objective and to the psychological state of Mr Ellis as I now better understand it,” he said in a statement tendered to the royal commission.

“I realise I should have exercised more regular and stringent oversight.”

But Cardinal Pell denied claims from the former chancellor of the Sydney Archdiocese that he was involved in discussions about compensation payments, particularly when Mr Ellis lost his job.

“[Claims that] I would agree to offer him $5,000 extra by way of compensation, I regard as grotesque,” he said.

There was a round of applause in the packed hearing room when Cardinal Pell was challenged to back up his statement that quite a number of abuse cases are never validated.

“You’ve said that in quite a number of cases, for example, in schools, the incidents are found not to be validated,” Counsel Assisting the Commission Gail Furness said.

“I call for the data that supports that evidence.”

Sceptical Vatican gave accused ‘benefit of the doubt’

Before turning to the Ellis case, the commission had questioned Cardinal Pell about the culture of the Church in the 1990s.

Cardinal Pell agreed that before the Towards Healing pastoral and redress scheme was established in the mid-1990s, some priests were moved between dioceses in the event of an abuse complaint.

“Unfortunately that was the case,” he said. “If that happened, it would be very much by way of exception.”

He told the hearing the Vatican took a “sceptical” approach to complaints of abuse and accused priests were given “the benefit of the doubt”.

I think there was more of an inclination to give the benefit of the doubt to the defendant, rather than listen seriously to the complaints.

Cardinal George Pell

“The attitude of some people at the Vatican was that if accusations were being made against priests, they were made exclusively or at least predominantly by enemies of the Church to make trouble and therefore they should be dealt with sceptically,” he said.

“I think there was more of an inclination to give the benefit of the doubt to the defendant rather than listen seriously to the complaints.”

Cardinal Pell also told the commission that sentiments similar to those in the Vatican were present among some in the Australian arm of the Church in the early 1990s.

“Not to anything like the same degree, I don’t think, but it is a little bit difficult to know what people think on these issues unless they are discussed directly or they are challenged on them,” Cardinal Pell said.

“I never heard – I think in many ways, the English-speaking world made a significant contribution to the universal church in this area.

“In dealing adequately with this, whatever the deficiencies, I think we were ahead of some countries.”

He said when he became Archbishop of Melbourne he “moved very vigorously no improve what was a chaotic situation” surrounding the handling of abuse claims.

Abuse survivors listen closely to Pell’s evidence

The walls outside the royal commission have been covered in placards from victim support groups, calling on Cardinal Pell to be accountable for his actions and detail his role in the Ellis legal proceedings.

Child abuse survivors said they would watch Cardinal Pell’s appearance with great interest.

Dr Cathy Kezelman, the president of the group Adults Surviving Child Abuse, said there needed to be some clarity around the issue.

“We’re all waiting to see what the archbishop’s role was in this case and there’s been conflicting evidence to date. What we know is that John Ellis suffered enormously through this,” she said.

“We had an internal church process that acknowledged he’d been abused and yet when he sought a civil claim that was brought into question.”

Care Leavers Australia Network chief executive Leonie Sheedy said her organisation was eagerly anticipating the Cardinal’s evidence.

“It’s so long overdue,” she said. “I feel so sad about what happened to John Ellis and all those other people who have tried to get justice for the crimes that were committed against them.

“They call it the Ellis defence, but it should be called the Pell defence.

“He’s going to go down in history as the person who denied people justice.”

After his testimony, Cardinal Pell is expected to leave Australia for Rome to take on a new senior role at the Vatican, which includes responsibility for preparing the Vatican’s annual budget, as well as financial planning and enhanced internal controls.

The hearing continues.