Hearing: Judge-alone trial judgment.
Facts: On 27 September 2016, the accused pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mary Wallace (the deceased) on 24 September 1983. A significant part of the Crown’s circumstantial case was that the accused possessed a tendency at the time of the alleged murder to choke or strangle women in order to force them to submit to having penile/vaginal sexual intercourse with him. The Crown led evidence of three women who had alleged that they had been sexually assaulted by the accused.
Issue/s: Whether the accused was guilty of the charge of murder.
Decision and Reasoning: In reaching this decision, His Honour first listed the legal matters he took into account in reaching the verdict (see -). Most relevantly, Justice Button noted that it would have to be proven beyond reasonable doubt that at the time of offence the accused possessed a tendency to strangle women to cause them to submit to intercourse with him. This was for at least two reasons: (1) there was authority that tendency must be proven to the criminal standard in order to be taken into account (see the discussion of HML v The Queen in DJV v R at , and R v Matonwal & Amood at ). (2) In the circumstances of this case, it was agreed between parties that the alleged tendency was an indispensible intermediate fact with regard to the guilt of the accused (Shepherd v The Queen)(see -).
Justice Button then stepped through his sequential reasoning for reaching the verdict of guilty (see -). One of the steps in this reasoning was that His Honour found that the accused possessed a tendency to rape women and to strangle them ancillary to that crime. This was after considering the evidence of three women (see -).
In light of the following evidence, at -, Justice Button held that the accused’s guilt had been proven beyond reasonable doubt:
‘the proven tendency of the accused to rape and strangle women; the marked similarities between his interaction with the deceased and his interactions with women whom, I am satisfied, he had raped and strangled; the fact that the deceased has never been seen again after she was in the company of the accused; the fact that, within 48 hours of his interaction with the deceased, the accused undertook an activity relating to his boot that featured the use of a hose; the fact that hairs (which shared a reasonably rare profile with those of the deceased) were seized from the boot of his vehicle, and not disputed at trial to be from the deceased; and the fact that, on any analysis, the accused had ample time to dispose of the body’.Justice Button concluded: ‘the accused treated the deceased very much as an object, just as he had treated three other young women’.