DNA evidence rejected in double jeopardy bid

A MAN previously acquitted of murder will not be retried under the State's new double jeopardy laws after the Queensland Court of Appeal ruled fresh DNA evidence in the case was unreliable.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was previously found not guilty of stabbing a woman to death.

The woman was found wrapped in bedding with a pillow.

The man was arrested again over the 1980s murder last year under Queensland's double jeopardy laws and later released on bail.

The application for his prosecution was the first made under the new laws.

IN AUGUST the Queensland Court of Appeal heard an application made by the Crown to have the man retried for murder.

Under the laws, the application can be made if there is "fresh and compelling evidence" against a person relating to an offence they have already been acquitted for.

But today, the Queensland Court of Appeal unanimously dismissed the application on the basis the fresh evidence was unreliable and would not allow the man to have a fair trial if he was placed before a jury again for the woman's murder.

During the hearing, the court heard DNA was crucial to the case, with prosecutors alleging new evidence showed his blood was found inside the home of the deceased on a pillow slip.

Director of Public Prosecutions Michael Byrne told the court that when the man originally went to trial in the 1980s the court was told a pillow case had two areas consistent with the man's blood.

The man denied he had bled that night.

After the trial in which a jury found the man not guilty, samples from the pillow case were sent for DNA testing in Victoria.

A partial DNA profile matched the man, the court was told during the hearing.

But the Court today said how the DNA came to be on the pillow slip was unknown.

The Court found the new evidence was unreliable because there was no witness available to give evidence about how the sample was tested or to be cross-examined at trial.

"… the fresh evidence does not go nearly far enough to prove the respondent killed the deceased," the judgment said.

"If accepted, it only proves that the respondent's DNA was on the pillow… The evidence does not show how or when the respondent's DNA came to be on the pillow. There is simply no evidence from which it could be inferred that the respondent's deposited some of his DNA onto the pillow in a way associated with the act of murder."

The Court of Appeal said the fresh evidence did "no more than to reinforce" the fact the man was in the deceased woman's bedroom, which was already in evidence at the first trial in the 1980s.

It was also noted that blood-stained underwear, which formed part of the case, had now been destroyed and the DNA found on the pillow case could have been transferred from skin cells.

"DNA matching is powerful evidence because, if there has been scientific integrity in the process that leads to obtaining a profile, it is almost incontrovertible. The inability of the defendant to test that integrity means there cannot be a fair trial," the judgment said.