A Western Australian man acquitted of murdering his pregnant lover, Stacey Thorne, could have a good case for compensation, says his lawyer.
- Scott Austic was acquitted of murdering his lover
- A jury broke his conviction when it claimed they had planted evidence
- His lawyer has called for a new investigation and an ex gratia payment
WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that this article contain the names and pictures of people who have died.
Scott Austic was acquitted of Ms. Thorne’s murder in 2007 on Friday after spending more than a decade in prison.
His attorney Clint Hampson said Mr. Austic is now enjoying life with his family without a lawsuit hanging over his head.
“They are all just happy and relieved,” he said.
“It was a long fight, but I think they are just enjoying the company of their families right now.
“He’s a very relieved man.”
Ms. Thorne was pregnant with Mr. Austic’s child when she was stabbed more than 20 times and murdered in the southwest town of Boddington.
Mr. Austic was sentenced to 25 years in prison and lost one appeal, but won a second appeal earlier this year.
Stacey Thorne was murdered in the southwest town of Boddington in 2007. (AAP: WA Police)
The retrial defense case was based on allegations that the police had gathered vital evidence.
Dr. Hampson said WA police should take this into account.
“”[The jury] were relatively quick to acquit him, “he said.
“Given the concerns we’ve always had about this case, I think there should be some kind of [independent] Inquiry.”
Dr. Hampson said a new investigation could increase the urge for compensation in the form of an ex-gratia payment.
“I now believe that he was acquitted and that he served twelve and a half years. I think he could have a claim,” he said.
“That should be addressed to the attorney general.”
Still no justice for Stacey Thorne
In the meantime, Ms. Thorne’s murder has yet to be solved.
“We feel for Stacey Thorne’s family,” said Dr. Hampson.
“We understand they’d be upset today. But essentially there should be a cold case test on this matter to find out who the real killer is.”
Sisters of Stacey, Hayley and Julie Thorne, leave the court while Scott Austic appeals his murder conviction. (ABC News: Joanna Menagh)
WA Prime Minister Mark McGowan said he would consult with the police commissioner and the attorney general.
“I assume that there will be further investigations into this,” he said.
“It is clearly a very, very serious matter and it could affect the CCC.
“But of course I’ll consult with the working group, we only heard about it last evening.”
AG to examine the claim for compensation
In a statement, Attorney General John Quigley said he expected Mr. Austic to seek redress “for this injustice”.
Mr. Quigley said the government would consider such a request if and when it was received.
Attorney General John Quigley said the government will consider any claim for compensation. (ABC News: Hugh Sando)
He said Mr Austic’s case demonstrated the importance of the Appeals Process Change Act, which gave WA convicts a second chance of acquittal when new and convincing evidence emerged.
“After receiving a petition on Scott Austic’s behalf in April 2018 and seeking advice from the Attorney General, I referred the 2009 premeditated murder conviction to the Court of Appeal,” he said.
“Today my thoughts are with Stacey Thorne’s family. They will no doubt mourn and seek answers.”
In a statement, WA police said they would conduct a review in consultation with the director of the prosecution.