The Queensland government will remove laws that prevent a person being retried for the same crime, saying DNA advances prevent reasonable doubt.
The man accused of one of Queensland’s most shocking murders could be retried under proposed changes to the state’s double jeopardy laws.
Police would be able to again pursue former RAAF recruit Raymond Carroll for the alleged abduction, rape, and strangling death of Ipswich toddler Deidre Kennedy.
The 17-month-old’s body was found on the roof of a toilet block 41 years ago, about 500 metres from the family home.
Despite being twice found guilty of the murder, Mr Carroll still walks free after three successful appeals on legal technicalities, including the notion of double jeopardy.
Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie wants to overturn the 800-year-old law which he says is a roadblock to justice.
Despite other jurisdictions removing double jeopardy years ago, in Queensland a person can only face trial twice for the same or similar offence if they convicted after 2007.
Mr Bleijie will introduce legislation next week to make it totally retrospective.
Technological advances and DNA testing mean murderers who have escaped punishment may finally be jailed.
“This is about re-balancing the scales of justice and putting victims first,” he said.
“It certainly won’t open the floodgates.”
Queensland homicide victims’ support group Ross Thompson knows three cases that could be reopened.
He’s spoken to one victim’s family who broke down and hung up over the news.
“It never goes away,” he said.
“They’ve lost a loved one, it’s been through the open courts and it’s still an open case.
“Justice is blind sometimes.
“It is gong to open up a lot of cans of worms.”
In the past, Queensland Labor had rejected retrospective laws.
“If this government has a new proposal, their must be full consultation,” Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk says.
“I think it will open the flood gates for a whole lot of other matters, so let’s just wait and see what their bill actually proposes.”
The Caxton Legal Centre, which offers free legal advice, says the double jeopardy protection is a fundamental human safeguard against oppression by the state.
“The announcement show how vulnerable age-old rights are to the legislative whim of government,” Dan Rogers from the Centre says.
It will result in an increased risk for a miscarriage of justice by allowing the prosecution to have repeated trials, Mr Rogers says.
Furthermore, defendants, having already endured a lengthy and costly trial, may not have the stamina or the resources to effectively face a second trial.