Kerre McIvor: Like it or not, court disclosure rules are strict

By Kerre McIvor

Jeremy McLaughlin's previous conviction was not admissible. Photo / Supplied
Jeremy McLaughlin's previous conviction was not admissible. Photo / Supplied

People on talkback this week wanted to know why Jeremy McLaughlin's previous conviction for manslaughter was not able to be presented in court.

A caller to the show said there is a way for the Crown to have a defendant's past convictions or bad character revealed to the jury under the provision of propensity (or in legalese, Section 43 of the Evidence Act 2006).

But, as so often happens within a courtroom, there are strict rules as to when propensity will and will not be allowed. In the case of Michael Curran, who was charged with murdering 2-year-old Aaliyah Morrissey in 2005, the jury was not able to hear that he had 22 previous convictions for sex crimes on girls under 12, for rape and for manslaughter.

And in the case of two detectives accused of raping Louise Nicholas, the jury was not able to know that the two men were already serving time in jail for rape. The trial became a trial of Louise Nicholas' character. The bad character and propensity of the two former detectives was never known by the jury.

So, it's a tough one to get past the judge.

And in the case of McLaughlin, the two deaths caused by McLaughlin were not exactly the same.

With Phillip Vidot he was convicted of manslaughter. In the Jade Bayliss case he was charged with murder.

In the earlier trial he was one of three accused; when he murdered Jade he acted alone. Phillip was beaten, run over and robbed. Jade was suffocated and strangled. So - no propensity.

But looking at it as a layperson, there were more similarities in these cases than differences. McLaughlin looked into the eyes of the children he killed. He killed them both with his own hands. He took his time killing the young ones and ignored their struggles and cries for mercy.

He's a man who enjoys killing. That's propensity enough for me.

- Herald on Sunday

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