1 August 2001
P.O. Box 431
ARARAT VIC 3377
Your name has been given to me by a fellow inmate here. I've previously read some of your work and Bob and I swap information, and keep each other up to date with what is going on in the wrongful conviction or injustice department. Geoff Muirden was very helpful to me in my early days in prison, and I'll write to him again. I note that Rob Hulls' comments to Greg Bearup in The Age of 14 July, that he didn't know of any proposed 'Innocence Project' is in direct contrast to what was reported in The Herald-Sun of 10 December 2000, about Haermeyer and Hulls on the same subject.
This has been a better year for me than for many previous ones. Previously life has been very demanding and at times very threatening. You may have read that in March this year I was cleared, so the media say, of being a suspect in two other crimes. I was pleased about that. Although I always knew that I have never committed any crime of murder, kidnapping or any violence, and that the police could never have any evidence to connect me with this crime, I now know that if police want a conviction, they can get one. It was good that truth prevailed that allegedly cleared me and stated that I was not connected with any unsolved crimes on their national and state databases.
You may have also read recent media reports from the US that 'One in eight more who have already been executed are now shown to be innocent', and that hundreds of prisoners on Death Row have now been released by the results of DNA tests and other evidence. 'Innocent people are having their convictions overturned in the UK too'.
Some sections of the Australian media have been shocked and staggered by these figures and are asking, "is it happening here" and "how many people in our prisons are also wrongly convicted?" The Age's weekend magazine of 14 July (also the Australian, I'm told) had a 5 page article (pages 15-23) by Greg Bearup who says, "politicians and the judiciary acknowledge there is widespread corruption within the police service. Sometimes the justice system makes terrible mistakes." He then asks "whether DNA will also be used to free the innocent." The writer says (P2) "There is an attitude in our judiciary which says that it is better to be final and decisive than to admit mistakes. The law doesn't like to admit it makes mistakes." Sadly, in Victoria last year, of the 41 appeals there were no acquittals.
Under the heading "Many False Convictions" The Age of 9-6-01, and SBS and GTV9 of 8-6-01 reported:
"Residents would be shocked by the number of innocent people serving time in the State's jaiis'. NSW State Police Minister Paul Whelan. Yesterday Mr. Whelan said 'unethical police behavior had resulted in large numbers of wrong convictions.' "I think people would be shocked to find out how many people have been wrongly convicted, " Mr. Whelan said in a university of technology publication. The state last year introduced DNA laws to test all inmates, hoping to weed out false convictions.
"Justice is the search for truth. It is not a game in which one tries to beat his opponent to do harm to others" - says Linus Pauling.
DNA can be amazingly efficient. It has the potential to shake the foundations of the justice system, and with a national database it no longer stops at state borders.
There's got to be a question mark in one's mind in any criminal case. DNA test results provides overwhelming scientific evidence to the truth. Where there is match fixing or case fixing the results of DNA tests cuts through the entire swath that causes wrongful convictions. A large part of the false and prejudicial evidence in my own case was aimed at convincing the public that police had many eye-witnesses who identified me at or near the crime scene. There was No ID, No forensics and No DNA evidence.
The Human Rights Commission says 'the results of DNA testing, must he equally available to establish innocence as to establish guilt.' Police would not give me the results of my DNA tests so to defend myself at my trial. Clearly they did not link me. Had they done so they would have been compelling reason for the jury to acquit me. Note it is the results of DNA testing, not DNA testing itself that is vital to us.
For justice to be done it is paramount in any democratic society, for cases of injustice to be 'reviewed, investigated and overturned', or for persons to at least have access to the courts for a re-trial in order to quash past injustices.
Now that the technology exists, there needs to be an acceptable legal process for people already convicted to have their cases reviewed. Greg Bearup says: "In NSW Premier Bob Carr has announced that an innocence panel will be set up by early 2002. Victoria's Attorney General Rob Hulls says he is unaware of any moves in his state."
No one ever again should go through what my family and I have. Governments, legal systems, the police, the press and the public must learn that they cannot ride roughshod over people, no matter how insignificant they think them to be as for sure their sins will find them out. Our legal system is about results, not justice. However there is still those who will stand up for truth and justice thank God.
As there's no blame intended let us respect the rights of the individual, and let us search for the truth. Thank you for your prayerful reading of this.
Now to other news: Three months ago I moved from the previously antiquated and condemned accommodation quarters to a new unit which is much better. In the evenings we are away from the younger drug infested and at times violent prisoners who often cause trouble, although we mix with them during the day. I am learning and enjoying computers, and have watched the swimming, Lions rugby, and documentaries. Two weeks ago I lost a very good Christian friend of mine who worked on the computer next to me. He had a heart attack, and went to be with the Lord immediately.
Any acknowledgement can be sent through Bob
1 August 2001
H.M. Prison P.O. Box 431
ARARAT VIC 3377
Dear Ray Hoser
Under the heading "DNA plan to aid innocent at appeal," a Herald-Sun report of 10 December 2000 stated that the Victorian State Government will consider setting up an 'independent panel' to review applications for the use of DNA evidence in appeals. The report stated 'a government spokeswoman confirmed the government "would consider" DNA evidence being used to free innocent people.'
It is understood that Mr. Haermeyer, as Minister of Police and Prisons, and Mr. Hulls as Attorney General, have been studying a NSW plan for a special panel to review applications in which a person claims to have been wrongly convicted - as I was wrongly convicted of a crime I did not commit.
The plan takes after that of the "Innocent Project," a new national coalition of lawyers in the US fighting to broaden access to DNA testing, and compensation for those wrongly imprisoned. This allows 'post-conviction' DNA testing in all cases where there is "a significant question of innocence."
In the US 'numerous wrongly convicted prisoners have now been released by DNA and other evidence.'
· 1 in 8 prisoners now executed in the US are later shown to be wrongly convicted - GTV 9 'Today' 12/6/0 1.
· In the UK, the Criminal Cases Review Committee has released many wrongly convicted people - Herald-Sun 9/5/0 1.
· In Australia, NSW Police Minister, Paul Whelan says, 'There are many false convictions'. "People would be shocked by the number of innocent people in our fails who have been wronglv convicted." - The Age 8/6/01.
The Law Institute of Victoria claims 'DNA testing for people wrongly convicted of crime is "vital" for natural justice to be seen to be done.' It must not be a cover-up. Science can be frightenly efficient. The results of DNA tests should cut through the swath that produces flawed and dubious convictions. It is reported that the Victorian "Innocence Panel" would consider the following criteria, of which all 3 listed below apply in my case:
1 Cases in which DNA tests taken from an accused was not considered.
2 Incidents in which DNA from a crime was not able to be analysed, or available at the time of the trial.
3 Cases in which DNA evidences would point to another person.
The report said:
"The make-up of the independent panel is likely to include representatives from the Attorney- General's department, police, office of public prosecutions and Victims of Crime associations."
The purpose of my letter to you is to respectfully suggest it is essential that this be a fair and balanced panel. Neutral groups without preconceptions, such as the Law Institute, Human Rights, Legal Aid, Criminologists, and Academics in law, Liberty and Community Legal Centres, should also be represented on the panel. The aim should be to seek the truth, and to protect the rights of individuals. Please understand, for years, absolutely nothing has been done for people wrongly convicted of alleged crimes they did not commit. The NSW Minister "hopes to 'weed out' past injustices." As crime investigation no longer stops at the border this can also be a positive redress that is urgently needed in Victoria.
The results of DNA tests should be equally available to establish innocence as to establish guilt. This would safeguard the community by locking up the real offenders, and by insuring that innocent people are released from prison.
New legislation is required to allow persons access to DNA test results that may show whether a person is, or is not, implicated in a crime. Police should be compelled to provide DNA test results to those who have been DNA tested, or to his/her legal representative, within 7 days. Procedures need to be put in place to ensure that test results can neither be lost nor destroyed, but retained and made available for a reasonable period of time, say up to 20 years.
For Justice to be done the "Innocence Panel" must be fair and balanced. For cases of wrongly convicted citizens, where DNA tests or any evidence shows a possibility of a mistrial, it is paramount in a democratic country, that their cases be reviewed and investigated, and that they have access to courts to have their convictions quashed. There's no blame. So let us respect the rights of the individual, and let us search for the truth.
PS. Read Greg Bearup's excellent article Pages 18-23 in The Age "Weekend magazine", & The Australian of 14/7/01.