Sunday, March 12, 2006

Goodna Times Two

Also in Goodna (cf. below) and in the Brisbane Sunday Mail this morning, the case of the murder of 12 year old Leanne Holland raises its ugly head.

As if the matter of the savage killing of a child were not distasteful enough, the Queensland Government has now:

...blocked a prisoner from speaking publicly about information he claims identifies the "real killer" of schoolgirl Leanne.
The newspaper made a request to interview a Wolston Correctional Centre inmate who:

...once shared a cell with a violent sex offender who allegedly boasted of his involvement in the 1991 murder of the 12-year-old.

The offender knew details only the killer could have known and claimed he had photographs of Leanne's body, dumped in bush at Redbank Plains (a neighbouring suburb to Goodna)...

The mother (of the Wolston inmate) was prompted to contact The Sunday Mail after reading a report in October about sensational new claims in the book, Who Killed Leanne?, by former police officer Graeme Crowley and criminologist Paul Wilson.
In the preface to their book, the authors note:

The savage murder of 12 year old Leanne Holland in Goodna in September 1991 was one of the most brutal child killings in Australia’s criminal history. Sadly, very few people remember it. Leanne was battered to death, and possibly tortured and sexually assaulted.

There were no witnesses to the crime and police were unable to establish a motive. Flimsy and since discredited forensic evidence plus a hasty police investigation led to Graham Stafford — the boyfriend of Leanne’s older sister — being convicted of the murder.

Despite two appeals, two High Court challenges, and an appeal to the Queensland Governor, Stafford’s conviction has been upheld, and he remains incarcerated in prison. Yet, by being the first person to have gone as far as the High Court twice for the same criminal matter, Stafford created Australian legal history.

Now, ten years of painstaking research by former police officer and private investigator Graeme Crowley and criminologist Paul Wilson reveals that it is highly unlikely that Stafford could have committed the murder. Crowley and Wilson believe their investigation and analysis of this case raises enormous doubt and provides evidence that, properly put before the trial jury, would have presented no alternative to a verdict of ‘not guilty’. And, they go further by providing clues that could lead to the real killer.
Corrective Services media chief Ross McSwain said, in refusing the Sunday Mail interview, that 'particular consideration was given to the potential impact of interviews on the victims of crime and their families'.

More likely they're concerned about the potential impact on the police, Corrective Services and the Government if they've stitched up an innocent man and let the real killer roam free.

Authors Crowley and Wilson have already drawn parallels with 'Australia’s famous baby-dingo case in which Lindy Chamberlain was convicted of murdering her daughter Azaria':

...(so too) the police investigation into the murder of Leanne Holland shows the danger of obtaining convictions for murder based on inconclusive and questionable forensic science evidence.
Two things to think about: Graham Stafford has been in jail for 15 years. And the man who it is claimed boasted of killing Leanne Holland and taking pictures of her corpse has finished his sentence for unrelated sex crimes and was released from jail in 2003.

-- Nick

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