Murder conviction quashed for man accused of sword slaying
A man sentenced to life in jail for the murder of Central Queensland father Gary Ryan has won a retrial of his case after the Court of Appeal found there had been a substantial miscarriage of justice.
Trevor Spencer, 74, and Mark Stephen Crump, 38, were both sentenced to life in prison after the court heard the pair allegedly drove more than 1000km to ambush Mr Ryan, stabbing him with swords and leaving him to bleed to death.
Crump pleaded guilty to murder, while a jury found Spencer guilty of murdering Mr Ryan at his property in Mundubbera on August 23, 2016.
Spencer appealed the conviction and sentence, arguing that the conviction was unjust because there had been "inadequacies" with the directions that the judge had given the jury.
"A miscarriage of justice occurred by reason of the directions given as to how the jury could use the evidence contained in Mr Spencer's recorded and written statements tendered in the prosecution case," Spencer's legal team argued.
The Court of Appeal found in Spencer's favour, allowing the appeal, setting the conviction aside and ordering a new trial at a date to be set.
On the night he died, Mr Ryan was at home with his mother Jeanette and 15-year-old daughter, who found him found him lying in a pool of blood and desperately tried to keep him conscious until the ambulance arrived.
Spencer's defence argued that he should have been found guilty of manslaughter, not murder.
Minutes after the jury came back with it guilty verdict last year, Spencer told the judge: "Your Honour I'd like to just reaffirm that I am not guilty with anything to do with the murder of Gary Ryan."
Spencer's appeal was heard in the Court of Appeal last month and the Court of Appeal handed down its decision yesterday.
"No redirection was sought at the trial in relation to the directions given by the trial judge on how the jury could use the exculpatory statements made by Mr Spencer in the out of court statements," the judges wrote.
"That could not be explained as a forensic decision, as there was nothing to be gained for Mr Spencer in not seeking the redirection.
"The prosecution did not endeavour to show that the misdirection in respect of the use by the jury of the exculpatory statements made by Mr Spencer did not result in a substantial miscarriage of justice.
"The appeal must therefore be allowed, the conviction set aside and a new trial ordered."
Originally published as Murder conviction quashed for man accused of sword slaying