Double jeopardy reform means justice for victims

Published Thursday, 01 May, 2014 at 11:00 AM

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice
The Honourable Jarrod Bleijie

A significant roadblock to justice will be removed under reforms to Queensland’s double jeopardy defence.

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Jarrod Bleijie said recent amendments to the defence would be made retrospective.

“Our reforms will stop offenders from potentially and literally getting away with murder,” Mr Bleijie said.

“We are keeping the promise we made to Queenslanders that we would revitalise frontline services and rebalance the scales of justice back in favour of the victim, not the offender.

“The double jeopardy rule prevents a defendant from being tried again on the same or similar charges following an acquittal or conviction, even if new evidence comes to light.

“Advances in technology, particularly DNA testing, means new evidence may become available years after a trial. It would be an injustice if that new evidence could not be considered by a jury.

“Sadly, the former Labor Government left Queensland behind when it made changes to the double jeopardy rule in 2007.

“Queensland was the only jurisdiction in Australia to not make its amendments retrospective. Hypothetically, it meant a criminal who got away with committing a serious crime years ago would not face justice, even if new forensic techniques and technology pointed the finger at him or her.

“We are going to remove that barrier to justice for victims and their families.

“A retrial will be allowed for a past charge of murder when there is fresh and compelling evidence. It will also be allowed for past offences with 25 years or more imprisonment if the original acquittal is tainted

“The Queensland Police Service and the Director of Public Prosecutions will be responsible for assessing the merits of any proposed re-trial application and any decision regarding re-investigation.

“Our reforms will improve community confidence in the justice system while ensuring a person’s right to move on after a trial is protected for the vast majority of acquitted accused.”

[ENDS] 1 May 2014

Media Contact: Ashley McDermid 0412 731 355 or Jaime Wells 0409 624 139