Monday, July 09, 2007

This is Janine Balding

Janine Balding, originally uploaded by ddbsweasel.

This is Janine Balding, a young woman I never met, pictured as I like to remember her.

A few years after this photo was taken, I worked in the public service in the suburb she lived, and where her killers came from.

Her killers were sentenced for their crime, never to be released. They appealed, and their appeal was rightly dismissed.

Now her killers may be freed because of an administrative error, whereby two court documents weren't stapled together.

The administrative error is not the only court mistake in recent times.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Missing staple gets killers appeal
A MISSING staple in the court file of two of the state's most notorious killers has given them a fresh appeal - and the possibility of being set free.

In an astonishing blunder, sloppy record keeping in the Court of Criminal Appeal registry has led to two murderers of Sydney clerk Janine Balding being given special leave to take their case to the High Court.

Amazingly, the appeal has been granted because a staple was found to be missing in their court file.

Janine's mother, Bev Balding, yesterday expressed dismay and outrage at the legal loophole, which effectively quashes the pair's unsuccessful 1992 appeal.

The men, Matthew Elliott and B, who was a juvenile at the time of the brutal rape and murder in 1988 and can not be identified, unanimously lost the 1992 appeal along with the third killer, Stephen Jamieson.

The Balding case is the latest in a series of administrative mistakes in the court registry, which also threatened the convictions of child killer Kathleen Folbigg and a fourth convicted murderer who cannot be named for legal reasons.

Lawyers for Elliott and B will argue in the High Court the pair's case was never "finalised" because the Crown indictment was not fixed to the court file - as required by law.

They claim the oversight means none of the laws passed since then to keep the killers in jail, including truth in sentencing, apply to them and they should be released.

At the time they were jailed, life meant a minimum of about eight years although the trial judge, Justice Peter Newman, recommended their files be marked "never to be released".

There are staple holes in the top corner of the indictment but this was dismissed by the Court of Criminal Appeal last year as "inadequate" evidence that it had ever been attached to the file.

While the court agreed the killers' appeal had never been finalised as a result of the oversight, it nevertheless dismissed their appeals against their sentences.

But, Elliott and B then took their case to the High Court, which has agreed to hear another appeal in September.

"It beggars belief," Mrs Balding, close to tears, said yesterday.

"I can't believe that things can happen like this. How do they know someone has not removed the staple on purpose? You can't rely on the law when it relies on a solitary staple."

Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell said budget cuts were jeopardising justice.

"The Iemma Government is cutting resources for our court system to the extent that administrative staff are struggling to cope with the workload," he said. "A Government that claims to be tough on crime wouldn't be cutting resources to the courts."

Acting Attorney-General John Watkins said he appreciated the distress the ongoing appeals caused to Janine Balding's family.

"I understand that lawyers representing the youths argued that the legislative changes made by the Government since their conviction in 1990 have made their sentences more onerous," Mr Watkins said.

A spokeswoman for the Supreme Court said the system had since been tightened up.