News National Eastman should get $7 million compensation: judge

Eastman should get $7 million compensation: judge

david eastman compensation
David Eastman should receive more than $7 million in compensation, a Canberra judge has ruled. Photo: AAP
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A former public servant will be awarded more than $7 million compensation after spending almost two decades in jail for a murder he was later found not guilty of committing.

David Eastman had sought up to $18 million compensation for spending almost 19 years behind bars for the 1989 shooting murder of federal police assistant commissioner Colin Winchester.

Mr Eastman, 74, was found not guilty of Mr Winchester’s murder at a retrial last year, as his first conviction was quashed in 2014 due to concerns about the original evidence.

He had pleaded not guilty in 1993 but received a life sentence two years later.

Mr Eastman had sought between $14 million and $18 million compensation under the ACT’s human rights laws.

That came after he rejected a $3.8 million “act of grace” payment from the territory, which would have required him to waive his right to pursue any further compensation.

At the ACT Supreme Court on Monday, Justice Michael Elkaim said Mr Eastman should instead receive $7,020,000.

The ACT government was also ordered to pay his legal costs.

In a written account of his reasons, Justice Elkaim shot down an argument by the ACT government that Mr Eastman did not have the right to be compensated under the human rights act.

The territory government had argued he didn’t have that right as he already had access to compensation through their “act of grace” process.

“The fact that the (ACT) treasurer has made an offer of an act of grace payment is meaningless,” Justice Elkaim found.

The judge also stressed the ordeal Mr Eastman has faced.

“Almost 19 years is a very long time to be in prison,” he said.

“To this must be added the experience of prison as described by the plaintiff in his statement and inferred from the prison records.

“The experience also includes the injustice of being in prison as a result of a very flawed first trial.”