A West Australian man who was wrongfully jailed for more than a decade after being convicted of a murder he didn’t commit has been killed in a hit-and-run crash in the United States.
WA Police have confirmed 56-year-old Andrew Mallard died in Los Angeles.
Mr Mallard was convicted of the brutal murder of Perth wife and mother Pamela Lawrence in 1995 and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
He served 12 years in jail until the combined efforts of a journalist, politician and a team of high-profile, pro bono lawyers finally saw him exonerated.
In a statement, the family of Andrew Mallard said they were shocked to learn overnight of his sudden death.
Former journalist Colleen Egan, who played a role in obtaining the acquittal of Mr Mallard said she’s assisting the family with media queries.
“His mother, Grace Mallard, sister Jacqui and brother-in-law Wayne are all devastated by the news,” she said in a statement.
“They are being assisted by the Australian consulate in the US.”
The statement said Mr Mallard had been based in the UK and was travelling frequently to the US, where his fiancée lives, and was looking forward to getting married.
His sister Jacqui Mallard said the family is devastated his life was cut short.
“Those years were taken from him and now his life has been taken,” she said.
In a statement, WA Attorney-General John Quigley told the ABC he’s terribly saddened by the tragedy.
“It’s just fortunate that he got to spend 13 years of freedom after so much time wrongfully imprisoned.
“My thoughts are with Grace and Jacqui,” Mr Quigley said.
Los Angeles Police are investigating.
‘They framed me for a murder I did not commit’
Mr Mallard spoke to ABC’s Australian Story in 2010, describing the torment he endured during his incarceration.
“I was wrongfully imprisoned. There’s a stigma that goes with that and still goes with that,” he said.
“I know what they did to me and it’s the truth. They framed me for a murder I did not commit.”
Ms Egan had worked on the Mallard case for two years when she became convinced there had been a miscarriage of justice.
“There probably are still people out there who believe that Andrew did it. There probably always will be,” Ms Egan said.
“It was just a cruel twist of fate that put him on a collision course with this inquiry and it was just a matter of fact that there were police who were willing to act dishonestly.
“There was a prosecutor willing to run a case that wasn’t quite right, and there were three judges who refused to believe it when evidence was put in front of them, and they saw what the High Court saw.”
Desperate in her efforts to find new evidence, she took a risk in seeking the assistance of then shadow attorney-general John Quigley, who had been the WA Police Union’s lawyer for 25 years.
Soon Mr Quigley, with his intimate knowledge of policing practices, made a breakthrough, finding crucial evidence never revealed to the defence.
Mr Mallard’s supporters were devastated three years later when, despite the new evidence, a fresh appeal to the WA Supreme Court failed. But they fought on.
It would be another two years before Mr Mallard’s conviction was quashed by the High Court amid allegations of police and prosecution misconduct.