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High Court quashes appeal hope of Janine Balding's killers
TWO men convicted of the rape and murder of a 20-year-old Sydney woman, Janine Balding, in 1988 have had their latest, and possibly last,
bid for freedom rejected.
were 16 and 14 years old when they, and a third person,
abducted the bank teller
from the Sutherland railway station car park.
The men based their recent application to appeal to the High Court partly on an administrative error in the Court of Criminal Appeal, which
had rejected their appeal against their life sentences in 1992.
At that time, staff had not properly attached the decision to the file, entered it onto a computer, or written it on the file to formalise the result.
When the men sought a review of their case last year after discovering the error, they were again knocked back by the Court of Criminal Appeal.
Yesterday, the High Court reaffirmed that position, refusing the men leave to appeal.
It also rejected their application on another ground, relating to the legal status of comments made by the sentencing judge who in 1990 had
recommended that the men never be released.
Miss Balding's mother, Beverley Balding, told ABC radio she welcomed the High Court's decision. "To have this brought up all the time constantly
is very wearing and very hard on you," Mrs Balding said.
The decision is believed to be the men's last avenue of appeal.
But Cameron Murphy, president of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, said the council opposed life sentences without hope of parole. He said it
ruled out the chance that a prisoner could reform.
The Sydney morning Herald (9-11-2007)
Persons involved in the 1988 abduction/rape/murder of 20 yr old Janine Balding
# Stephen Wayne Jamieson (Rape/Murder- life in jail)
# Matthew James Elliott (Rape/Murder- life in jail)
# Bronson Blessington (Rape/Murder- life in jail)
# Wayne Wilmot (Accessory to murder- sentenced to 10 yrs jail/ 8 yrs non parole/ paroled)
# Carol Ann Arrow (aka- Carol Ann Didden) (Accessory to murder- 3 yr good behaviour bond )
Stephen Wayne Jamieson
Matthew James Elliott
Balding killers will never be free
The two teenage killers of Janine Balding this morning lost their final chance of ever walking free
from jail when the High Court threw out their appeal.
The court unanimously found Matthew Elliott and Bronson Blessington had suffered no miscarriage of
justice because a judge in 1992 recommended they never be released.
Blessington, who was 14 when he abducted, raped and murdered Ms Balding with a gang of street kids,
became the youngest person ever jailed for life in Australia.
The two men, bankrolled by the NSW Legal Aid Commission, had sought to reopen an appeal they made to
the Court of Criminal Appeal in 1992 because of a remarkable legal blunder.
They argued the appeal was not finalised because a staple which was supposed to fix their original
indictment to the court file was missing.
Last year the Court of Criminal Appeal again dismissed their appeal - despite finding that the 1992
case had never been finalised as a result of the sloppy record keeping.
Today the High Court said the Court of Criminal Appeal had been correct, staple or no staple.
The judges also rejected the argument that truth in sentencing laws passed since Blessington and
Elliott were jailed could not apply to them.
The case locks the door on all nine of the state's most notorious killers who were jailed for life
with the recommendation they never be released.
They include the killers of nurse Anita Cobby and young mother Virginia Morse.
Ms Balding was abducted from the car park at Sutherland Railway Station on her way home from work as
a building society clerk in September 1988.
She was forced into her own car and repeatedly raped, gagged and hogtied and her face pushed down in
the mud at a shallow dam at Minchinbury in one of the country's most callous and horrific murders.
Blessington, Elliott, then 16, and Stephen "Shorty" Jamieson, then 22, were convicted of her murder
and Justice Peter Newman jailed them with the recommendation never to be released, before truth in
sentencing laws were enacted.
At the time, a life sentence effectively meant eight years before killers were released on parole.
But they argued that because their 1992 appeal was never finalised, none of the subsequent laws to
cement killers in jail applied to them.
"It is true that in some areas of litigation even final and perfected orders may, on further application,
be suspended to allow for supervening legislative change," said the High Court in its judgment handed
down this morning in Canberra.
"But that is far from the present case."
The court had been told that Blessington had hoped to be released to marry his girlfriend Kim Ly, a
teacher he met through a Christian group visiting jail.
The third killer, Jamieson, did not join this appeal however the Legal Aid Commission continues to
fund his case with a plan to get the bandana he used to gag Ms Balding sent to the UK for DNA testing.
Jamieson argues it was another man nicknamed Shorty and not him who was there and the gag belonged
to the other Shorty, a claim which has been repeatedly rejected by the courts.
Ms Balding's mother Bev today said that after 19 years she just hoped it was all over.
"You can imagine how light my heart feels after this because I was worried about it, I really was,"
Mrs Balding told The Daily Telegraph Online.
"I feel sanity had prevailed.
"My personal feelings about this is that they are evil and I'm sure that some time in the future if
they got out of jail, they would do something wrong again."
Missing staple gets Janine Balding killers appeal
A MISSING staple in the court file of two of the state's most notorious killers has given them a fresh appeal - and the possibility of being set free.
In an astonishing blunder, sloppy record keeping in the Court of Criminal Appeal registry has led to two murderers of Sydney clerk Janine Balding being
given special leave to take their case to the High Court.
Amazingly, the appeal has been granted because a staple was found to be missing in their court file.
Janine's mother, Bev Balding, yesterday expressed dismay and outrage at the legal loophole, which effectively quashes the pair's unsuccessful 1992 appeal.
The men, Matthew Elliott and B, who was a juvenile at the time of the brutal rape and murder in 1988 and can not be identified, unanimously lost
the 1992 appeal along with the third killer, Stephen Jamieson.
Murder victim- Janine Balding
The Balding case is the latest in a series of administrative mistakes in the court registry, which also threatened the convictions of child killer
Kathleen Folbigg and a fourth convicted murderer who cannot be named for legal reasons.
Lawyers for Elliott and B will argue in the High Court the pair's case was never "finalised" because the Crown indictment was not fixed to the court file - as
required by law.
They claim the oversight means none of the laws passed since then to keep the killers in jail, including truth in sentencing, apply to them and
they should be released.
At the time they were jailed, life meant a minimum of about eight years although the trial judge, Justice Peter Newman, recommended their files
be marked "never to be released".
There are staple holes in the top corner of the indictment but this was dismissed by the Court of Criminal Appeal last year as "inadequate" evidence
that it had ever been attached to the file.
While the court agreed the killers' appeal had never been finalised as a result of the oversight, it nevertheless dismissed their appeals against their sentences.
But, Elliott and B then took their case to the High Court, which has agreed to hear another appeal in September.
"It beggars belief," Mrs Balding, close to tears, said yesterday.
"I can't believe that things can happen like this. How do they know someone has not removed the staple on purpose? You can't rely on the law when it relies on
a solitary staple."
Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell said budget cuts were jeopardising justice.
"The Iemma Government is cutting resources for our court system to the extent that administrative staff are struggling to cope with the workload," he said.
"A Government that claims to be tough on crime wouldn't be cutting resources to the courts."
"A review of Supreme Court rules would ensure these sort of incidents cannot happen in the future,'' he told said.
"We need to modernise our court system, we need to modernise everything around our court system to ensure that sloppy oversights like this cannot result in the
possibility of convicted murders being set free.''
Acting Attorney-General John Watkins said he appreciated the distress the ongoing appeals caused to Janine Balding's family.
"I understand that lawyers representing the youths argued that the legislative changes made by the Government since their conviction in 1990 have made their
sentences more onerous," Mr Watkins said.
A spokeswoman for the Supreme Court said the system had since been tightened up.
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Janine Balding killers fail life sentence appeal
TWO men jailed for life for the murder of Sydney woman Janine Balding have failed in a bid to have their life sentences quashed.
In a majority 2-1 judgment, the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal today refused the men leave to reopen their original appeal against the life terms imposed by the Supreme Court.
The men cannot be named for legal reasons.
The men were aged just 14 and 16 when, with Stephen "Shorty" Jamieson, they abducted, raped and murdered Ms Balding in 1988.
The 20-year-old bank teller was forced into a car at knifepoint at Sutherland railway station before being brutally raped then drowned in a dam at Minchinbury, in Sydney's west.
In 1990, Justice Peter Newman sentenced her three killers to life in jail.
"So grave is the nature of this case that I recommend that none of the prisoners in this matter should ever be released," Justice Newman said.
Their original appeals against the severity of their life sentences were dismissed in 1992.
But earlier this year two of the men sought to reopen the appeal and have the Court of Criminal Appeal quash the judge's recommendation.
They asked the court to quash their life sentences and set a fixed term.
Justice David Kirby ruled that the sentences were manifestly excessive, noting the offenders' youth and below average intelligence.
He proposed that their life terms be quashed and the pair resentenced to maximum jail terms of 28 years.
He imposed a non-parole period of 21 years which, with time already served, would have made the men eligible for parole in 2009.
However, Chief Justice James Spigelman and Justice Roderick Howie disagreed, refusing them leave to reopen the appeal.
Justice Howie said there was no "unfairness or injustice" in the sentences imposed on the men which should be addressed by the appeal court.
The majority court ruling means that unless the pair successfully appeal to the High Court, they will remain behind bars for life.
Outside the court, the president of the Victims of Crime Assistance League, Howard Brown, said he had spoken to Ms Balding's mother, Bev Balding.
She was "absolutely ecstatic" about the court outcome, he said.
Serial rapist destroyed my life: victim
A 26-year-old woman who was sexually assaulted as a teenager by Sydney serial rapist
says the attack destroyed the best years of her life.
The woman, who was 19 when she was assaulted by Wilmot at Leightonfield train station in Sydney's west in 1998, read a victim impact statement today
at a sentencing hearing in the District Court at Parramatta.
Wilmot, one of four men convicted over the notorious attack on Sydney woman Janine Balding 17 years ago, has pleaded guilty to kidnapping and sexual
assault arising from the Leightonfield attack.
Wilmot served eight years for Ms Balding's abduction and rape and had been out of jail for about two years when he is alleged to have been involved
in the Leightonfield attack.
About two or three weeks after it occurred, he was locked up for an attempted abduction of a young woman at Glenfield station, in western Sydney,
the court has been told.
The woman attacked there was able to fight him off and escape, and Wilmot was eventually sentenced to a minimum seven years for the attack.
He was linked to the Leightonfield attack last year during a DNA testing program for prisoners in NSW jails.
DNA from semen left on the shirt of the victim had matched his.
Wilmot had been eligible for parole in June last year but by then the charges already had been laid in relation to the Leightonfield attack.
The victim sobbed as she read her impact statement by audio video link to the court today.
"The best years of my life were destroyed by Wayne Wilmot," she said.
"You only get one chance at life and I feel cheated because much of mine has been ruined by the cruel, despicable actions of another.
"I won't have another chance at these years and I don't believe my attacker should either."
Wilmot remained impassive while the statement was read out.
He was to be sentenced later today.
The Sydney Morning Herald (27-2-2006)
Shorty Jamieson Was Killer
THE young woman who was with Janine Balding's killers has broken her silence
to reveal that police got the right Shorty.
"It was Jamieson," Carol Ann Didden said yesterday.
Mrs Didden made the dramatic statement for the sake of Janine's mother, Bev Balding.
In her statement to police Mrs Didden said she did not know the name of the Shorty
who was with the gang of five youths who abducted Miss Balding but provided a
description which fitted Jamieson.
She confirmed that it was Stephen "Shorty" Jamieson who had committed the crime and not Mark "Shorty" Wells.
Her statement should put the matter to rest for everyone, including the disgraced
MP Peter Breen, her husband Harry Didden said.
Mr Breen was forced to quit the Labor Party this week after professing his love for
Jamieson in a new book.
The Upper House MP, now an independent, has spent years campaigning for Jamieson's
murder convictions to be overturned on the basis that police arrested the wrong Shorty.
"Carol recognises the right person is in jail. She has always maintained that," Mr
"She said it was Jamieson."
Mr Didden also revealed that the Police Integrity Commission had been to their
Riverina home to question his wife. Mr Breen is on the parliamentary committee
Jamieson, now 40,
34 and B, 32, who was a juvenile at the time
and cannot be named, were jailed for life "never to be released" for the abduction,
rape and drowning of Ms Balding. All of them have maintained that it was Shorty
Wells and not Jamieson who was with them.
That claim was described as a "pathetic lie" by Justice Murray Gleeson, now the
Chief Justice of Australia.
Mrs Didden, then Carol Ann Arrow an 18-year-old runaway who met the gang the
morning of the murder at a drop-in centre, was released on a $200 three-year good
She admitted stealing Ms Balding's car, and using the victim's bank card.
Psychiatrists said that she was mildly mentally retarded and easily led.
She was with a youth, W, now 32, kissing and cuddling in the front of the car while
Ms Balding was being assaulted. W was jailed for rape.
Mr Didden said he believed Jamieson had conned Mr Breen.
"I feel sorry for Mrs Balding that all this has been brought up again," he said. "I think
she feels some animosity towards Carol and I hope this helps."
Mrs Balding said she thanked Mrs Didden for her statement.
"I hope Mr Breen leaves us alone now," she said.
The Daily Telegraph (22-7-2006)
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