A new trial has been ordered for four men convicted of a brutal gang rape in a Cairns cane field after a finding that the men’s trial was plagued with issues.
A new trial has been ordered for four men convicted of a brutal gang rape in a Cairns cane field after a finding that the men’s trial was plagued with issues.

New trial for four men found guilty of gang rape

Four men found guilty of a brutal gang rape will have to be retried after a court found their trial was plagued with issues and the jury should have been let go on the first day of the case.

The Queensland Court of Appeal set aside the convictions of Aaron Anau, 34, Tom Banu Ingui, 45, Francis Peter, 34 and Jeffrey Tibau Banu, 39, and ordered a new trial after finding two major flaws in their case.

The men were found guilty after an 11-day trial in the Cairns District Court of raping a 16-year-old girl in the back of a Holden Jackaroo which was parked near an isolated cane field in December 2017.

Anau, Ingui, and Peter, were jailed for at least 10 years' jail after being found guilty of four counts of rape while Banu received seven years' jail because he was found to have only been a party to the rapes.

Three Court of Appeal judges unanimously ruled to set aside the men's convictions and ordered a new trial, giving reasons for the shock decision this morning.

The court found a "fundamental defect" in the trial from the first day, after Judge Tracey Fantin made a comment about the makeup of the jury midway through the empanelment process. `

Judge Fantin said she was thinking about discharging the jury because she considered a jury made up mostly of men "may cause the trial to be unfair".

Five men and one woman had been empanelled at the time of the comment.

Lawyers for the men argued this caused a miscarriage of justice because it undermined the integrity of the selection process and could have inferred that the defence were trying to "manipulate the system".

The court also ruled that the jury should have been discharged after a juror alleged on the fifth day of the trial that he had heard intimidating comments.

Juror X, as he was referred to in the judgment, told other jurors about an alleged incident where an associate of one of the accused's had called him a "grub" during a lunch break on the first day of the trial.

Judge Fantin discharged Juror X but kept the other jurors believing the comment would not have tainted their ability to deliberate without bias.

She also said she had to consider the "considerable expense" of the trial and that "public interest demands that criminal trials be prosecuted with a minimum of delay".

But the Court of Appeal said this was an error and Judge Fantin should have been concerned with the fairness of the trial above anything else.

"The overriding public interest is that a trial is a fair trial," Justice Anthes Phillipides said in her reasons.

The men will be retried on all charges on a date to be fixed.

Originally published as Shock ruling: New trial for four men found guilty of gang rape



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