Not Guilty of Two Counts of Sexual Assault and Two of Indecent Assault
Our client is a 24 year old Laotian citizen from Homebush.
He was studying Law at the University of New South Wales.
A friend invited him to a housewarming dinner at an apartment.
The friend’s roommate and girlfriend were present at the dinner.
Two bottles of champagne were consumed by the four during the dinner, and a bottle of red wine was consumed as they played drinking games thereafter.
More alcohol was then purchased and the four kept drinking.
The host’s girlfriend later left the lounge room and made her way to the bedroom.
The host eventually joined his girlfriend, who was asleep on the bed.
The host later awoke to find his girlfriend sleeping on the floor wearing nothing but a towel.
The girlfriend then alleged that our client had entered the room, dragged her from the bed to the floor, sexually assaulted her and left while the boyfriend was asleep nearby.
Our client was in fact sleeping on the couch at the time.
He was confronted by the host and vehemently denied the allegations before leaving the premises.
Police were called and arrested our client a number of days later, then charged our client with two counts of sexual intercourse without consent (sexual assault
) and two of assault with act of indecency.
Police had located a doona semen near where the complainant alleged the sexual assault occurred, and semen was found on the complainant’s perianal region.
Our client was refused police bail and his family sought our firm’s assistance.
We immediately made an application for bail in Burwood Local Court supported by lengthy submissions, which was granted.
The Crown relied on a range of material including an alleged DNA match between our client and the semen on the doona and the complainant’s perianal region, the statements of the complainant and host, relevant photos of the locations in the apartment and expert reports.
Our client was adamant that he did not commit the offences.
Our defence team meticulously reviewed the evidence. We engaged a forensic biologist to explain the presence of the DNA and a toxicology expert to comment on the effect of the complainant’s extreme level of intoxication.
The DPP was nevertheless intent on pursuing the case and it ultimately proceeded to a jury trial in Downing Centre District Court.
The extensive cross-examination of the complainant and her boyfriend revealed a range of significant inconsistencies, including discrepancies between their original statements and their evidence at trial.
It also raised scenarios regarding the presence of the DNA.
After some deliberation, the jury was unable to reach a verdict. The judge directed the jury that it could reach a ‘majority verdict’ of 11:1 but the jury was still unable to agree one way or the other. The judge therefore declared a ‘hung jury’ and the jury was discharged.
The matter proceeded to a re-trial in the same court.
In preparation for the re-trial of our client, we carefully reviewed the transcripts from the first trial and pinpointed further weaknesses in the Crown case.
We obtained further expert reports that were able to provide extra evidence about the possibility of DNA inadvertently been transferred through touching the same objects.
Our team was thereby able to raise further doubt regarding the accuracy of the DNA evidence and the complainant’s version of events.
The jury then came to a unanimous verdict of not guilty of all charges.
Not Guilty of All 22 Fraud Charges and Participate in Criminal Group
Our client is 31 year old man from Canley Vale in Sydney.
He was employed as a Premium Baccarat Croupier at The Star Casino.
Two men attended casino on several occasions over a 10 day period to play Premium Baccarat on the table our client was servicing.
The casino became suspicious of the activity on the table after observing the betting patterns of the two men, after each of their intermittent large bets allegedly invariably returned wins.
The casino arranged for the examination of CCTV footage which, it claimed, showed our client raising a few of the cards from the top and bottom of the deck and thereby revealing their values, then making hand signals to indicate whether or not to make a large bet.
The casino reported the information to the police and all three men were charged with 22 counts of fraud under section 192E of the Crimes Act 1900
and one count of participate in criminal group.
The total amount allegedly defrauded was more than $3.3 million.
Our client was adamant that alleged offences did not occur and his behaviour was consistent with the rules of the game.
As the DPP only served the allegedly ‘incriminating’ footage, we subpoenaed all footage of our client dealing over the course of his employment, painstakingly viewed all of that footage and prepared extensive material to suggest our client:
(a) on several occasions placed his hand on the side which the prosecution suggested would trigger a ‘large bet’, but that action did not result in such a bet being placed,
(b) our client’s style of dealing was to fan cards, and
(c) there was plentiful evidence that our client did not view cards when he dealt in that fashion.
We also subpoenaed extensive material from the casino to the effect that the manner of dealing was not against any rules or regulations.
The matter ultimately proceeded to a 7-week jury trial in Downing Centre District Court
During the extensive cross-examination of prosecution witnesses, our team was able to systematically produce evidence which communicated the actual state of affairs to the jury.
Moreover, after all of the prosecution evidence had been given, our defence team tendered carefully drafted legal submissions to the sentencing judge in the absence of the jury to the effect that the prosecution evidence was incapable of establishing the essential element of ‘deception’ – as no deceived party had been identified. We asked the judge to direct an acquittal on that basis.
The submission was powerful and persuasive given recent decisions by the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal to the effect that a deceived party must be identified in order for an offence of fraud to be established.
The submission appeared to have caught the prosecution by surprise, as the Crown prosecutor tried to argue that the deceived party was The Star Casino. That submission was clearly inconsistent with the NSWCCA decisions which require a particular person or party to be actively deceived and a causal link to be established between the deception and financial advantage derived.
The judge agreed with our submissions and directed the jury to acquit each of the co-accused on all charges.
Not Guilty of Drug Supply and Proceeds of Crime
Our client is a 30 year old Truck Driver from the South Coast of NSW.
Police observed a car that was double parked in the middle of street in the Sydney CBD, which they claimed is ‘well known for drug use and supply’
They conducted a vehicle enquiry through their Mobipol system to obtain the registration particulars of the car.
The enquiry suggested the vehicle was registered to a family member of an organised crime group, and that the member was previously convicted of drug supply.
Police approached the vehicle and saw four individuals inside. The owner and his associate were in the front seats, and our client and a television presenter in the back.
Police questioned each of the occupants, and our client disclosed that he was in possession of a quantity of cocaine. They searched our client and located a large resealable bag of cocaine down the front of his pants, two small bags of cocaine in his wallet, nearly $5,000 in cash and two mobile telephones.
They arrested and conveyed our client to the police station, where he participated in an interview and made certain admissions.
One of the phones in our client’s possession contained messages indicative of drug supply. Our client told police that this phone did not belong to him, but to one of the other occupants.
Our client was charged with drug supply
due to the quantity of drugs in the large resealable bag and contents of the phone messages, and with proceeds of crime for the cash found on him.
Our defence team undertook a considerable amount of work establishing there was insufficient evidence to prove ownership of the phone and gathering evidence regarding duress.
is when a person commits an offence because threats are made against them to such an extent that a reasonable person in their position would comply.
The case ultimately proceeded to a jury trial in Downing Centre District Court.
Once evidence of duress was raised, the prosecution made submissions that a serious threat of violence could not be established as our client was aware of the presence of police nearby. It was further submitted that the text messages suggesting supply were from our client, as other evidence suggested he was indeed the sender of those transmissions.
Our cross examination of the prosecution witnesses, including expert witnesses, supported by documents gathered by the defence completely defeated the prosecution’s ability to negative the defence of duress. It was a systematic and complete dismantling of the prosecution case which meant we did not need to put our client on the witness stand to testify and face cross examination.
In the result, the jury returned verdicts of not guilty for both charges, and the alleged proceeds of crime was refunded to our client.
Not Guilty of All 16 Sexual Assault Charges
Our client is a 33-year-old employee at Woolworths, who faced several sexual assault allegations brought by a female work colleague. From the very start, our client vehemently denied ever having any sexual or inappropriate relations with the complainant.
16 separate sexual assault charges
were brought by the prosecution, and our client was intent on defending all of them.
He saw another criminal law firm in Sydney who advised him that he would be found guilty if he defended the charges. Our client showed us a copy of the written correspondence to that effect. We disagreed with that firm's advice, as we quickly ascertained that there were glaring inconsistencies in a number of the complainant's statements, parts of which simply did not make sense.
The matter was ultimately listed for a jury trial in Downing Centre District Court
, and the prosecution case centred around the complainant’s numerous statements to police.
Our defence team worked intensely to gather a range of materials via various lines of inquiry, including subpoenas, and prepared witnesses statements which discredited the complainant’s claims. That material was crucial in establishing the alleged incidents could not have occurred.
After extensive cross examination of the complainant at trial, the prosecution was left in a position where it was unable to establish a ‘prima facie’ case against our client for 10 of the charges. A 'prima facie' case is one where the evidence is capable of persuading a properly instructed jury that the defendant is guilty. The prosecution's failure to meet this test led the Judge to direct the jury to return verdicts of not guilty for those 10 charges part-way through the trial.
The defence then presented our case, by the end of which it was clear the complainant had fabricated the allegations for her own purposes.
After just 40 minutes of deliberations, the jury returned verdicts of not guilty for the remaining 6 charges.
Not Guilty of Commercial Drug Importation
Our three clients are all Indonesian nationals who were crew members aboard a ship headed for Australia.
The ship’s cargo-hold was altered to increase its capacity, containing a speed boat and dozens of ‘Prada’ bags filled with a total of over 600 kilograms of heroin
The ship anchored approximately two kilometres from Australian shores, and the speedboat was ferried back and forth unloading the heroin-filled bags onto the mainland.
Unknown to the ship’s captain and crew, Australian authorities had been monitoring the operation and ultimately arrested all on board the ship.
The captain and officers were all convicted at trial. They were represented by other lawyers.
Six crew members faced a separate trial, with our team representing three of the men in Downing Centre District Court
We advised our clients not to give evidence after the close of the prosecution case at trial, as the state of the evidence was that knowledge or recklessness had not been proved beyond reasonable doubt. They were ultimately found ‘not guilty’ of all charges.
The remaining three crew members - represented by other lawyers - each testified in court. They were questioned at length and ultimately found guilty. In our view, it was a significant strategic error to have exposed the men to cross-examination, given the weaknesses in the evidence at the close of the prosecution case.