A Melbourne man convicted of MURDERING two police officers in a crime that shocked the nation has been sensationally ordered a retrial after spending almost 20 years behind bars
- Double police killer Jason Roberts has been ordered a re-trial over two murders
- He was jailed for shooting dead Sgt Gary Silk and Snr Constable Rodney Miller
- Victoria’s Court of Appeal granted Roberts’ application on Tuesday
- Roberts was jailed in 2002 and is now expected to bring on a bail application
- Bandali Debs was also found guilty of the murders but there is no doubt he did it
- Murders had spawned countless tv shows and documentaries over the years
- The retrial casts serious concerns over the way police handled the investigation
Double police killer Jason Roberts has had his conviction for the shooting murders of two officers in 1998 sensationally quashed.
Sergeant Gary Silk and Senior Constable Rodney Miller were killed while on duty, investigating a series of robberies in the Melbourne suburb of Moorabbin.
Roberts and Bandali Debs were found guilty by a jury in 2002, but Roberts had always maintained his innocence.
Double police killer Jason Roberts has been granted an appeal against his conviction for the shooting murders of two officers in 1998
Roberts (pictured with his girlfriend) has always maintained his innocence
On Tuesday, the now 40-year old got the news he has waited almost two decades to receive – he would return to trial.
The decision was handed down in the Victorian Supreme Court of Appeal on Tuesday.
Justices Osborn, Forrest and Taylor had considered the appeal for four months.
Barristers acting for Roberts made no comment as they left the court this morning.
Earlier, Roberts’ lawyer Peter Matthews told the court his client would apply for bail within days.
The astonishing decision comes amid revelations his original trial was corrupted by police misconduct involving the doctoring of a statement, failing to disclose evidence and alleged perjury.
The hearing came only after Roberts exhausted all appeals and new legislation was introduced to allow appeals in cases where fresh evidence gave the accused a second chance.
In March, on learning the appeal hearing would be granted, Senior Constable Miller’s widow Carmel Arthur said it was expected.
‘It’s all going to be good. No surprises. Onward and upward,’ she said leaving court after the decision.
The public were not allowed into Tuesday’s hearing due to the ongoing COVID-19 concerns.
Roberts’ previous appeal was dismissed in April 2005 and a High Court bid was refused months later.
Judges believe now that serious questions had been raised about the fairness of his trial, and the reliability of evidence given by police.
Sergeant Gary Silk (left) and Senior Constable Rodney Miller (right) were killed while on duty, investigating a series of robberies in the Melbourne suburb of Moorabbin
Central to the prosecution case at trial was whether there was one or two offenders, and they relied on evidence from officers at the scene that Senior Constable Miller’s dying words indicated there was more than one offender.
In a statement used at trial, Senior Constable Glenn Pullin said, knowing he had been mortally wounded, Senior Constable Miller told him ‘they were on foot’.
Other officers recorded him as saying ‘two, one on foot’ when asked about the number of offenders.
But it was revealed last year Senior Constable Pullin’s statement from the trial had actually been made 10 months after the murders, and was passed off as another one he made four hours after the killings.
The judges said the officer also made false statements during Roberts’ pre-trial committal hearing about the date of his second statement.
‘It raises a serious issue as to the reliability of the evidence of what Senior Constable Miller actually said by way of dying declarations,’ they said.
The fairness of Roberts’ trial was also in question.
There was evidence officers had been dissuaded from including evidence about the Sen Const Miller’s dying remarks in their original statements, that those first statements had been revised later, records of that process had been destroyed and none of those matters were disclosed at trial, the judges noted.
Officers Silk and Miller were investigating a series of 10 robberies at outer suburban restaurants and were patrolling a potential target just after midnight on August 16, 1998.
Roberts now admits he was involved in the robberies, but says he was with his girlfriend Nicole – Debs’ daughter – when the murders happened.
He was sentenced to life with a minimum of 35 years.