The principle of double jeopardy was being re-examined in Australia at the time, in the light of several cases where evidence that might have resulted in a conviction was not heard in the original trial.
The law was changed so that, in some cases, where there was fresh, compelling evidence, a retrial could be ordered.
“So, the argument we made was that, if the prosecution can have a second go, why can’t the convicted person?” says Dr Moles.
The careful language and demanding tests used in cases of double jeopardy provided a path that could overcome the arguments against allowing a free-for-all in appeals.
From 2007, with help from Flinders University staff, the researchers ran an extensive media campaign to explain the problem to the Australian public, and began further research into miscarriages of justice, engaging with other jurisdictions with similar experiences.
In November 2012, the South Australian Government presented a Bill, which was adopted unanimously by the parliament and came into effect in May 2013, allowing for appeals where there was “fresh and compelling” evidence that might give rise to a finding that there had been a “substantial miscarriage of justice”.
Similar legislation has since been enacted in Tasmania, and is currently before the parliament in Western Australia.
As former Justice of the High Court Michael Kirby noted: “Sometimes in Australia, principle triumphs over complacency and mere pragmatism”.