Convicted murderers' 'Chinese whispers' appeal dismissed
A JUROR who told his barber about the criminal histories of three men who he helped find guilty of murder will not be grilled on when and how he discovered that information.
Supreme Court Justice Roslyn Atkinson last year ruled a juror who spoke about the prior convictions of three Rockhampton prisoners should not be questioned on whether he knew of their checkered histories before his jury delivered a guilty verdict.
She reasoned the criminal histories were revealed after the verdict and during the accused mens' sentencing and in various media reports.
Justice Atkinson dismissed the application but the decision was appealed.
In a judgment delievered on Friday, Court of Appeal Justice John Muir outlined the Chinese whisper-like circumstances surrounding the saga.
Mark Dempsey Knight, Wesley Robert Williams and Wayne Thomas Robertson were found guilty last year of killing fellow inmate Robert James Buckley at the old Etna Creek Prison in 1999.
It was the second time the trio went to trial over the murder after the Court of Appeal overturned an earlier conviction.
Last April - weeks after the guilty verdict -, Williams' lawyer went to the hairdresser where he was told a juror, who went to the same hairdresser, had spoken about the verdict.
The hairdresser told the lawyer a customer had told him he had been involved in a Supreme Court murder trial.
Justice Muir wrote in his judgment the juror said something to his hairdresser along the lines of: "It wouldn't make any difference as they were already serving life terms or long terms of imprisonment already."
Lawyers for the Williams, Knight and Robertson, argued there were grounds to suspect the juror had searched the internet and found out about the accused men's criminal convictions before delivering a verdict.
During the mens' sentencing, it was revealed Knight, Williams and Robertson were serving lengthy prison sentences for murder, manslaughter and assault respectively.
Justice Muir stated it was common ground that some details of the accused mens' criminal histories were available online when last year's trial was ongoing.
But he said there was nothing in the juror's conversation with his barber to suggest the juror knew about the criminal history before the verdict.
"Nor was there anything in the conversation to suggest that the juror was not alive to, or unmindful of, his obligations as a juror," Justice Muir wrote.
Justice Muir outlined there needed to be more than a mere possibilty that a juror searched for prior convictions to warrant further investigation.
Justice David Boddice and Justice David Jackson agreed with Justice Muir that the accused men had failed to prove the Justice Atkinson made an error in her decision.
The appeal was dismissed.