Man wins retrial over woman’s murder
A man who has been serving a life sentence for the murder of a Brisbane mother in 2014 has been granted a retrial, after a successful appeal.
Jacob Michael Smith was found guilty by a jury in April 2018 of the murder of a woman, 34, at Norman Park in August 2014.
Smith also had been on trial at the same time for the rape, attempted rape and assault occasioning bodily harm of a girl, 12, and stealing, allegedly committed after the murder.
Midway through the trial Smith, who did not give evidence, pleaded guilty to those offences, but not to murder, the Court of Appeal heard.
Smith had been a friend of the alleged murder victim, "Mandy", and had visited her and her two daughters, who were all ill, and had stayed the night of August 25, 2014.
The Crown case was that during the night Smith murdered Mandy, through some form of asphyxiation, as she slept on a mattress on the floor of the lounge room.
The court heard that Smith, after committing sexual offences against another female, fled from the scene and later, when police arrived where he was staying, he fled once more until he was captured.
In the Court of Appeal it was argued that there should have been a separate trial for the murder charge, and it should not have been joined with the other counts at the trial.
The Crown case was that the murder, rape and stealing charges had to be considered together because Smith's acts that night constituted a course of behaviour that could only be understood as a whole.
Court of Appeal president Justice Walter Sofronoff said the risk of prejudice about the evidence of the rape was very high.
Justice Sofronoff said the trial miscarried because no directions were given about how the evidence on the rape, assault and stealing charges could be used.
He said the Crown conducted its case on the footing that all of the evidence admitted on the other charges was relevant to prove the murder case.
"There is no evidence that the implications of such an approach was ever thought through," Justice Sofronoff said.
There was a real risk that the jury misused the evidence that was led to prove those counts.
Justice Philip McMurdo said the jury was not given proper directions as to the hypothesis of an unintentional killing by Smith or about the risk of misuse of the fact of Smith's sexual offending
Justice Sofronoff, Justice Anthe Philippides and Justice McMurdo unanimously decided to set aside Smith's murder conviction and order a retrial on the murder charge.
Originally published as 'Never thought through': Man wins retrial over woman's 2014 slaying