Friday, November 21, 2008

Verdict in an interesting case

Gordon Wood found guilty of Sydney model Caroline Byrne's murder.

Whole lot of information on the case in this weekend's Weekend Australian. Many links from this article.


Mild Colonial Boy, Esq. said...

Sorry to get off topic but as you are a fan of "The Hollowmen" - I thought you might appreciate "In the thick of it" (

I've only seen bits on youtube - but the ABC is begining the series at 9.30 or so tonight. And to be frank it seems superior to The Hollowmen in acting and in script (although the swearing may be a problem for some).

kae said...

Oh Noes! I have to go to bed, I'm shagged!
I'll have to tape it... i'm on ABC now, but not really watching it.
Off topic is OK here, speshly when everyone's gorn away!
Thanks again.

kc said...

Not away, Kae, just nothing interesting to say!

Skeeter said...

Kae, I have hesitated to comment on this case because it is now subject to appeal.
However, I have been very interested in the story since first reading about it in Packer's Lunch, (Neil Chenoweth, 2006).
The apt subtitle for this interesting book is "A rollicking tale of Swiss bank accounts and money-making adventurers in the roaring '90s". It covers the events surrounding Caroline Byrne's death in great detail.

Caz said...

Better a late verdict than never. He doesn't have much wriggle room for an appeal.

Kaboom said...

Caz, it was a purely "circumstantial" case.

It is far better for 100 guilty men to go free, than to have one innocent man wrongly convicted.

Appeals Courts have a significant advantage - one's guilt or innocence is not being determined by 12 people who are too stupid to get out of jury duty.

Caz said...

Kaboom - I can only assume you've read none of the details about the case if you think she managed to throw herself head first off the cliff, or that the scumbag who threw her like a spear (they tested it, over and over and over again) is an innocent man.

You're also ignorant of law. Appeals can only be based on legalities, eg, if the judge erred in some manner, either in admission or omission of evidence, or directing the jury. Appeals are NOT based on the verdict of guilt or innocence, appeals are about the administration of law. Hence why judges and judges alone hear cases on appeal: they determine whether the case was legally sound. There's a good chance his lawyers will find no basis for any such appeal. (They can't just make something up, the appeal would be rejected and never go before a judge.)

kae said...

Hi all
There's a whole page about this case and the outcome in the Weekend Australian. I've linked on the blog.

Caz I
I thought it was all too suspicious. Too many weird things that just didn't add up. Too many lies, too much hidden. Whatever the jury heard it must have been interesting and damning for Wood.

If I was called to jury duty I wouldn't "try to get out of it", I would consider it something I should do for my community. I think I'm a fair and reasonable person. I hope someone will write a book about this case because I think there's a lot we, as observers, just don't know.

Caz II
Is he gay? Is he bi? Was Caroline his much-loved beard? Was she murdered because he was jealous? Was she murdered because she knew too much? I would like to know the whole story to understand why this young woman is dead, and what drove the murderer to kill her.
I think he was condemned by the lies he told about how she died. Three different car accidents in three different places.

Caz said...

Why Kae?

Ah, dear lady, it's a rare thing to find any murder case involving families or intimates (or between strangers) where the "why" is obvious to the rest of us.

Murder never appears to be an excellent alternative to divorce, for example, yet it's not an altogether uncommon option.

In this case: a paranoid arsehole? He thought he was important enough for anyone to be interested in gossip about him and his work?

A jealous man, driven by ego, not love?

The reasons are always prosaic, unconvincing, non-compelling.

No reason that warranted murder.

kae said...

No reason that warranted murder.

True. I suppose it's because I'm pretty sure I'd never murder anyone.

kae said...

And therefore the why will never make sense.

Kaboom said...

Caz, I must admit that I haven't slavishly followed this media witch-hunt, and must defer to your intimate knowledge of the case, and your profound knowledge of the Law.

I was always under the impression that an appellate Court could consider two distinct issues, namely (1) the sufficiency of the evidence, and (2) whether the jury's decision was against the weight of the evidence. Both these avenues of appeal (if successful) can lead to an acquittal by an appellate Court, which of course is subject to the jurisdictional rules relating to autrefois acquit.

Must be my ignorance. I apologise profusely for displaying my ignorance on this forum, and offending wise and legally knowledgable contributors such as your fine self.

Then again, if we consider a media circus trial, with no significant evidence of motive, not to mention the purely circumstantial evidence generally, you say that the highest level of evidence is that someone must have "spear" thrown the victim, because to land head-first 11.8 metres out from the base of the cliff would have taken a top-notch athlete?

Don't forget the old adage: "When you fall, turn it into a graceful dive. They will always remember you for that."

I have found it almost impossible to spear-throw a reluctant, flailing, fighting-for-life victim anywhere (except in the blogosphere), let alone off a cliff. Then again, I must not be a top-notch athlete.

The only thing "flailing" in this case appears to be the Prosecution.

Anonymous said...

Caz I wouldn't accuse Kaboom of being ignorant of the law. Just a tip. Mehaul

Bonjour Kaboom.

Caz said...

The only thing "flailing" in this case appears to be the Prosecution.

Seeing as they have, at this time, a conviction, they're not exactly flailing.

Have you ever witnessed or experienced the ease with which a man can overpower a woman? One punch can do it.

Not sure why you are so sympathetic to this man.

Guess you'd be happy to have 100 guilty but free men living in your street - I wouldn't, but good for you!

kaboom said...


I am not sympathetic to those who beat up on women. Never have been.

I am a believer in the rule of Law. We have rules, you know, rules that make certain things susceptible to punishment as a consequence of their breach.

The more that society (including you, Caz) wishes to punish a person simply because they appear a bit of a cad, or a bit of a bastard, the more the rule of Law is etched away, until we have an "Australian Idol" mode of justice, where a consensus of opinion will guarantee a person's guilt or innocence.

Trial by media in this country started with Lindy Chamberlain in December 1980, and hasn't stopped since. Me old mate Mehaul knows my opinion on Lindy Chamberlain.

The end result is of course an infidel equivalent of Sharia law, where the men are to be punished and stoned to death for the most imaginary of crimes, and the minds of the believers cannot see anything wrong with this.

We have the Criminal Law. It applies to all. Get over your hangups, and get on with life, safe in the knowledge that the Law, although not perfect, is the best that we have.

A circumstantial case always necessitates particular and stringent attention to establishing things like motive, means and opportunity.

In this case, we have opportunity, perhaps (although totally unproven) means, and zero on motive.

Oh! I forgot! We've got fugitive flight! Wasn't GW arrested in the UK, 8 years afer the event?

The media made a great show of this. Mokbel, Skase, everyone tries to avoid extradition, don't they?

Caz, settle down, take a chill pill, and stop fighting. I will win (being a male), and will leave you (being a female) a shrivelled mass of inarticulate diverse scatterings of emotion and misdirected anger sloshing around the deepest bilges of the interweb, if you persist in disagreeing with me.

Hah! Only joking! Had you there, didn't I?

Seriously, we all need to reserve our opinions on this particular case. The agitation by the bereaved parents started immediately following Caroline's death. It culminated in nothing more than a witch-hunt 13 years later.

My personal opinion is that the prosecution badly stuffed this case, and as a result, GW will walk on appeal, never, ever to be tried again.

This, Caz, is how appellate Courts can and do determine guilt or innocence in the absence of a jury.
I am not ignorant.

Bad, seriously bad, mismanagement. Had the prosecution not elected to go down the path of celebrity witnesses, who knows?

Anyway, seeing that I am such a fair and understanding person, I propose a truce. On the following condition:

When GW finally walks a free man mid next year, or perhaps even the following year, with a sizeable compensation claim in his pocket, all I want with respect to this truce is a simple apology from you.

If GW loses all avenues of appeal, I harbour no qualms whatsoever apologising to you.