Australia: TV Report Angers Judges

David Darragh reports for the West Australian on the appeal of convicted murderer Andrew Mallard, who has sought the admission of polygraph results.

THE Court of Criminal Appeal has criticised heavily what it described as emotive and one-sided television news reports of convicted murderer Andrew Mallard’s appeal that could influence witnesses at the hearing.

Mallard’s appeal against his conviction for wilfully murdering Mosman Park jeweller Pamela Lawrence in May 1994 was almost postponed yesterday after Director of Public Prosecutions lawyer Bruno Fiannaca objected strongly to television news coverage of the opening day.

All three judges presiding over the case expressed their concerns about the potential impact of such reports on witnesses.

Mr Fiannaca told the court the DPP was disappointed with the emotive and inaccurate nature of some reports.

They had the potential to influence the evidence of several witnesses.

He said some reports seemed calculated to influence the case. Serious thought was being given to contempt of court charges.

He was concerned about a story on Tuesday night’s 7.30 Report which showed video footage of Mallard having a lie detector test.

Mr Fiannaca said the tenor of the story seemed to suggest the legitimacy of polygraph testing.

But the DPP had affidavits from eminent scientists which supported arguments that polygraph tests were unreliable, Mr Fiannaca said.

Mallard’s lawyer, Malcolm McCusker QC, said polygraph examiner William Glare was not expected to testify after recently having a severe stroke.

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