Analysing Criminal Law

10 May 2012

Professor Mark Findlay provides commentary on two cases concerning criminal law, one involving the revoking of bail in the Supreme Court of NSW, the other concerning the admission of guilt in a murder over two decades later in the United States.

The first concerns Scott Orrock, an alleged member of the Hell's Angels motorcycle gang and former boss of the Nomads.

Police allege he set fire to a police van on April the 20th, which was parked outside his tattoo parlour in Newtown in Sydney's inner-west.
He was initially granted bail, but the decision led to strong criticism from the Premier, Barry O'Farrell, and his Police Commissioner, Andrew Scipione.
The Director of Public Prosecutions then appealed and his bail was revoked.

"Here we have a matter which is before the criminal courts and we have the Police Commissioner and we're told the Premier, not just making general comments on the appropriateness of awarding bail but making interventions in relation to this case and making criticisms, in the Premier's case, of previous judicial decisions," Professor Findlay said in an interview with ABC Radio Current Affairs Program, PM.

"You could say that in the first decision there hadn't been the extent of representational commentary that we've had in the second.

"Now I'm not saying that this second judicial decision was influenced directly by what the Premier said but it is a matter which would come before the judges attention."

View the entire transcript - Alleged bikie's bail revoked after criticism - PM

The second case concerns former Rap artist "G Dep" who was sentenced to 15 years to life in the United States this week for the murder of a man in a botched robbery in New York in 1993.

G Dep (real name is Trevell Coleman) was not a suspect in the murder which was an unsolved cold case.

However, in 2010 he walked into a police station to confess to the crime two decades after it took place.

He reportedly told police he wanted to clear his conscience.

Speaking to Radio National's Life Matters, Professor Mark Findlay said such situations were not unknown and usually occur for two reasons.

"First, for reasons that are very difficult to explain some people will want to confess for the notoriety.

"Second, there is the straight forward remorse situation, where obviously this is one of those cases.

"One thing that we should keep distinct here though, is that there is a very, very great difference between moral guilt and legal guilt."
Download or listen to the audio - Coming clean: guilt and confession - ABC Radio National's Life Matters

Contact: Greg Sherington

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