On September 8, 1990 Roger Bawden walked into Queenbeyan Police Station and confessed to the murder of Kum Yee "Joyce" Pohl. Bawden was charged and eventually jailed for the murder. On May 29, 1992, the NSW Governor granted Pohl an unconditional pardon.
The 1984 Queensland murder of 40-year-old Gold Coast sex shop owner, Kevin Mannix, had drastic consequences for his 19- year-old son Barry James Mannix, who was charged with the murder. Mannix claimed he was bashed at Broadbeach Police Station on July 6, 1984, and forced to sign two false confessions to his father's murder. The strength of the police case was bolstered by the confessions but subsequent events confirmed that Mannix was innocent.
Three men arrested for the murder of Gold Coast call girl, Mrs Lovina Cunningham, 40, who was found on August 26, 1984 with her throat cut in the same manner as Kevin Mannix confessed to both murders. Mannix was immediately released from prison.
Fresh claims of false imprisonment and miscarried justice emerged from within the ranks of The Queensland Police Department itself during 1984 when Lorelle Saunders, Queensland's first female detective, was charged with conspiracy to murder her lover, another Queensland police officer, Chief Superintendent Allan Lobegeiger.
Saunders was suspended without pay and spent ten months in prison after allegedly breaching her bail conditions. Her confinement inside Brisbane Women’s Jail became a horrifying nightmare for the celebrated detective. She was threatened with death, assaulted by prisoners and prison guards. Her meals were urinated upon and her personal property was stolen or destroyed.
In desperation, Saunders placed herself in solitary confinement to escape the threats and physical abuse. She remained in solitary confinement until her trial in Brisbane Supreme Court where a jury found her not guilty of two charges and Justice Shepherdson ordered the jury to find her not guilty of another charge because the police evidence against her, a tape recording, had been fabricated. Lorelle Saunders was completely exonerated and reinstated into the Queensland Police Force after her trial.
When police whistleblower Jack Herbert admitted to The Fitzgerald Inquiry that “verballing”, the fabrication of police confessions, had been endemic in the Queensland Police Force it resulted with the immediate release of Walter John Anderson who had served 22 years for the murder of two men at Funnel Creek in 1966. Herbert admitted to the Inquiry that Anderson had been "verballed" in 1966.
Kelvin Ronald Condren was jailed for life in 1984 for the murder of Patricia Carlton at Mt Isa on September 30, 1983. The conviction was based on a confession which Condren denied at his trial. Condren was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. He served seven years inside the Queensland prison system before new evidence revealed that the victim was seen alive while Condren was in police custody for being drunk and disorderly.
The conviction was quashed after the then-Queensland Attorney-General, Dean Wells, had the new evidence presented to the Full Court. June 29, 1990 Kelvin Condren was freed from Townsville Jail.
The release and wrongful imprisonment of Pauline Hanson and David Ettridge casts a sinister shadow over the Queensland criminal justice system. It is a system where the scales of justice are tipped in favour of those who can afford high-priced lawyers or have the necessary clout to negotiate a deal with the prosecution. For those who don’t have the money or the clout the scales of justice become the scars of justice.
February 20, 1991 Bernie Matthews was arrested at his Sydney home and extradited to Queensland where he was charged with the $690 000 armed holdup of a Brambles security van at Sunnybank in April 1990. During the robbery, the armoured van guards had petrol poured over them, with threats that it would be ignited. Matthews was charged with two counts of attempted murder and three counts of robbery with violence – charges that each carried a maximum life sentence. He was remanded into the Queensland prison system.
October 26, 1991Gary Sullivan and William Orchard held up security guards filling an ATM at Indooroopilly. They were arrested the next day. Both men confessed to a string of armoured van robberies stretching from 1985 – 1991 including the Sunnybank robbery. A Brisbane Supreme Court judge ordered the immediate release of Matthews.
The Queensland government refused to compensate Matthews for the wrongful imprisonment based on the argument that Queensland Police arrested and extradited him as a result of intelligence from the NSW Police Force and false testimony of a NSW criminal informer. The NSW government refused to consider compensation for wrongful imrpisonment based on the argument that Queensland had imprisoned him and not NSW.
In September 1996 Matthews and another man held up and robbed the National Australia Bank in Eagle Street Brisbane. During sentencing for that offence at Brisbane District Court Judge Ian Wylie set a precedent when he told Matthews that the years of wrongful imprisonment should be compensated. The judge then sentenced Matthews to ten years and compensated the sentence with a non-parole period of three years. The judge ordered that Matthews be paroled at the end of three years.