David Dougherty To Be Compensated

  • Phil Goff
Justice

Minister of Justice Phil Goff announced today that the Government has agreed that compensation should be paid to David Dougherty.

“David Dougherty was convicted in 1993 on charges of abduction and sexual violation by rape of a girl then aged 11. He was acquitted on retrial in 1997. The Government has now accepted, following a report by Mr Stuart Grieve, QC, that Mr Dougherty is innocent of these charges and that his eligibility for compensation for wrongful conviction and imprisonment has been established,” Mr Goff said.

“The Government has now asked Mr Grieve to provide further advice as to the appropriate quantum of compensation payable to Mr Dougherty.”

David Dougherty’s conviction was based largely on the complainant’s identification of Mr Dougherty as the offender.

Forensic material was obtained from the complainant’s body and clothing but the amount of DNA material in the samples was insufficient to establish whether or not Mr Dougherty was a possible source, using the techniques which were available at that time.

Subsequent testing using a new DNA technique showed that DNA material from a person other than Mr Dougherty was present on the complainant’s underpants.

In June 1996 the Governor-General referred the matter back to the Court of Appeal under section 406 of the Crimes Act and a retrial was ordered. The retrial took place in April 1997 and Mr Dougherty was acquitted.

In November 1997 the then Government agreed to the adoption of interim criteria for evaluating claims for compensation or ex gratia payments in criminal cases but declined Mr Dougherty’s claim for compensation pending the outcome of further police inquiries.

On 28 November 1998, the Police investigation being effectively at end, the then Minister of Justice referred Mr Dougherty’s claim to Mr Stuart Grieve, QC, for independent assessment of whether it met the Cabinet interim criteria.

“I received Mr Grieve’s initial report at the end of November 2000,” Mr Goff said.

“Mr Grieve has conducted a thorough investigation of the case, including having the relevant DNA samples retested in Australia and interviewing the complainant in the presence of her mother and a Queen’s Counsel appointed to represent her” Mr Goff said.

“While the complainant maintained her identification of Mr Dougherty as the offender, the new DNA testing showed with even greater certainty than the earlier tests that seminal stains on the complainants underpants and certain other samples came from a person other than Mr Dougherty.

“Mr Grieve concluded the most likely explanation was that the complainant was mistaken in her identification.

‘The interim criteria for compensation require among other things that the claimant establish that he or she is innocent on the balance of probabilities. Mr Grieve concluded that Mr Dougherty’s has established his innocence to the required standard.

“While Mr Grieve has yet to make recommendations about the amount of compensation the Government considers it important that Mr Grieve’s findings are released now so that Mr Dougherty’s name can be cleared.

“I have asked Mr Grieve to report further to me with recommendations on quantum. I expect to receive this report by no later than April 2001.

“When a person is wrongfully convicted and suffers the trauma of trial, conviction, and imprisonment, there should be payment to help that individual recover losses and to compensate for the undeserved punishment they have suffered. The Government therefore has committed itself to pay compensation to Mr Dougherty at a level to be determined following Mr Grieve’s second report,” Mr Goff said.