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Perjury to beat murder rap loophole closed

26 May 2002

Justice Minister Phil Goff will introduce an amendment to the Crimes Act which will prevent instances where people can literally get away with murder.

The change has been approved by Cabinet and will be introduced as part of a Criminal Procedure Bill to be brought into Parliament next year.

The amendment will create an exception to the ‘double jeopardy’ rule. Under the current law a person who has been finally acquitted, convicted or pardoned for an offence cannot be tried again for the same offence.

“The change to the law will allow a re-trial where someone is convicted of an offence against the administration of justice (such as conspiracy to defeat the course of justice or perjury) which led to the person’s acquittal on an earlier criminal charge.

“The amendment was supported in a Law Commission report last year. The report was in response to the case of gang member, Kevin Moore, who was unable to be retried for murder after his acquittal on his first trial because of false evidence by a witness, who he had organised to lie on his behalf.

“Moore quite literally got away with murder.

“Leaving the law as it is would risk bringing the justice system into public contempt. It would also provide encouragement for those accused of serious offences to commit perjury or otherwise pervert the course of justice.

“The general rule against double jeopardy is a long-standing aspect of our law and an important protection against the possibility that the State could repeatedly bring the same charges against an individual previously acquitted of those charges.

“However the ‘double jeopardy’ protection was never designed to protect an individual who deliberately perverted the course of justice both to avoid conviction and to avoid ever being able to be held to account for the crime again.

“To secure a retrial, the prosecution will need to satisfy a High Court judge that it was more likely than not that the offence against the administration of justice was a significant contributing factor in their earlier acquittal.

“This law change will ensure that the sort of miscarriage of justice in the Moore case will not happen again and will help promote greater public confidence in our system of justice,” said Mr Goff.

Ends

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