High Court refuses appeal for trio of convicted murderers

LAWYERS for a trio convicted of murdering another prisoner at a Rockhampton prison have argued the case was weak and the jury heard evidence that should have been excluded.

Mark Dempsey Knight, Wesley Robert Williams and Wayne Thomas Robertson twice have been convicted of the same murder after they were successful on their first appeal and faced a re-trial.

Robert James Buckley, 23, was found dead, hanging by a towel from a window in a shower block at the old Etna Creek Prison in 1999.

Last year the Queensland Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal suggesting suspected jury bias - after a juror talked to his barber - where they sought access to jury information to investigate.

The High Court refused to grant leave to hear an application in February.

The trio have now brought the case back before the Queensland appeal court, arguing things Mr Buckley said or wrote before he died - about his dealings with his convicted murderers - should not have been before the jury.

They also argued witness statements were inconsistent and the guilty verdicts were unsafe and unsatisfactory.

Barrister Peter Davis, acting for Williams, said there were "many weaknesses" in the prosecution case including issues about timings and inconsistent, unreliable representations from other people.

He also said the medical evidence did not differentiate between suicide and unlawful killing and the case could not establish that the trio caused the death beyond reasonable doubt.

There was evidence before the jury that suggested Mr Buckley was in a dispute with Williams about stolen gold and that he suffered an assault over hiding some of it in a remote control car police had not found.

"No witness reported actually seeing any such assault and the evidence of Ryan and Robinson was insufficient to allow the jury to infer he had done so," Mr Davis submitted to the court.

Director of Public Prosecutions Tony Moynihan submitted the jurors were entitled to navigate their way through the evidence to reach the guilty verdicts they did.

Barrister Carl Heaton said he objected to that submission because "the evidence was of such poor quality" that it was impossible to find "a consistent, clear, compelling course of evidence to support the conclusion given".

He said jurors should not "cherry pick" information needed to conclude guilt.

As an example of inconsistencies that went to reliability of evidence, Mr Heaton pointed to one witness saying he saw the trio following Mr Buckley into the shower rooms while another gave evidence that Robertson was already at the urinal.

The appeal court justices reserved their judgment. - APN NEWSDESK

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