Acting Federal Justice Minister Peter Dutton has backed a newspaper headline calling the law “an ass” over the downgrading of Gerard Baden-Clay’s murder conviction.
Baden-Clay, a former Brisbane real estate agent, was convicted in 2014 of the murder of his wife Allison but the finding was set aside this week when the Court of Appeal found there was not enough evidence to prove he intended to kill the mother of three in 2012.
The murder conviction was downgraded to manslaughter.
Mr Dutton said Wednesday’s The Courier Mail front-page about the Baden-Clay appeal, headlined “the law is an ass”, was “dead right”.
“The law’s an arse [sic] … sorry to say it but that’s the reality,” he told Fairfax Radio on Thursday morning.
“Judges should have independence but they should reflect community views.”
Mr Dutton said there is no ongoing investigation to find out who killed Allison.
“I think the police believe they’ve pretty much got the bloke, there’s no sense that there’s somebody else out there killing women in the western suburbs,” he said.
“I feel for those poor girls and for Allison’s parents, they are to be dragged through this again.
“This bloke, if he had one shred of decency, he would stick his hand up, he would cop the consequences, admit to what he’s done, for the sake of his own daughters.”
Anti-domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty said yesterday that she could not understand the court’s decision.
“It absolutely sends the same message that I’m saying all of the time, that we undermine, disregard a victim in a violent relationship,” said Ms Batty, who became Australian of the Year in recognition for her national campaign against domestic violence.
“The other high-profile case in South Africa [of Oscar Pistorious], the same thing.
“Why is it so hard to believe when there is history of violence that that murder is not intentional?”
Ms Batty addressed a forum on the Sunshine Coast and said the Baden-Clay decision had left her feeling “totally gutted”.
“I just can’t believe – and I don’t know whether I should say so or not – I just cannot believe a history of violence that’s very clear can be appealed and made to be manslaughter,” she said.
Acting Queensland Attorney-General Cameron Dick said earlier this week he was seeking legal advice on whether the Court of Appeal ruling could be challenged.