Police not consulted over Keogh payment
Posted on 04/27/20 8:42 PM
The 1994 Adelaide death of Anna-Jane Cheney remains an open investigation and describing the wrongly-convicted Henry Keogh as a person of interest is an “understatement”, an inquiry has been told.
A state parliamentary committee is probing the $2.57 million state government payment to Mr Keogh, who spent more than 20 years in jail for murder before his conviction was overturned in 2015.
Police Commissioner Grant Stevens told the inquiry on Tuesday that he was not consulted over the ex gratia payment that was approved by Treasurer Rob Lucas and announced by Attorney-General Vickie Chapman last month.
Mr Stevens said that after the conviction was overturned and a new trial ordered, police had revived their investigation, going over all the evidence, re-interviewing witnesses and examining any new material.
A team of three officers was assigned to the case but their work stopped when the director of public prosecutions decided against going to trial.
But asked if Mr Kegoe was still a person of interest, the commissioner said such a phrase created the wrong impression, suggesting police were looking for more material that might result in a charge.
He said it remained the fact that Mr Keogh had been charged.
“From that point of view I think it’s an understatement to describe him as a person of interest,” Mr Stevens said.
“It’s simply a case that the DPP has made a determination not to proceed.”
Tuesday’s hearing was watched by Mr Keogh’s partner, Faye Hambour, who said the case had become political rather than centred on issues surrounding the prosecution.
“I have a very strong sense that the case regarding Henry has been political for a long time and that makes me very sad,” she said.
Ms Hambour said there were some within government institutions who were still pursuing the case “without properly absorbing and being mindful of strong evidence that says that false evidence was given”.
“It seems that the false evidence isn’t disturbing people.”
Mr Keogh, who has always maintained his innocence, served more than 20 years of a 25-year non-parole period.
In 2015 an appeal court ruled that the jury in his second trial had been misled by pathologist Colin Manock and there had been a substantial miscarriage of justice.
A third trial was ordered, but in November that year prosecutors decided not to go ahead.
The $2.57 million payment to Mr Keogh was announced last month, with Attorney-General Vickie Chapman saying it was the best way for the matter to be settled and to avoid further litigation.
But committee chairman, Labor’s Kyam Maher called for more transparency over the payments of such large amounts of taxpayer money.
“The attorney-general has to come out and clarify what’s happened here, why was this money paid, who made the decision, why was it this amount, what was the risk to the taxpayers,” he said.