Abridged version highlighting key points:
A lawyer specialising in miscarriages of justice has cast doubt on the murder conviction of a Brisbane man 70 years ago.
the 1947 case that shocked the nation, 50-year-old accountant Reginald
Brown was found guilty of asphyxiating his 19-year-old secretary Bronia
Armstrong in his Brisbane office.
However, after studying the
case, Dr Bob Moles from Flinders University's Miscarriages of Justice
Project has questioned the conduct of the trial.
"I would say
Reginald Brown did not get a fair trial by today's standards and he did
not get a fair trial by yesterday's standards," Dr Moles told Australian
He said police displayed tunnel vision by focusing their investigation solely on Brown.
of the most disturbing things about the case is the fact that the young
girl was found at about 9:30 in the morning, and Reginald Brown had
been charged with her murder by 6:00pm," Dr Moles said.
circumstantial case, the prosecution should establish there is no other
rational explanation consistent with the innocence of the accused."
Brown was tried and convicted within seven weeks of the murder and received a life sentence with hard labour.
Nine days later, Brown hanged himself in his jail cell at Brisbane's Boggo Road Gaol.
A handwritten note was found next to his body in which he proclaimed his innocence.
Police 'got the wrong man': Dr Moles
Key evidence in the prosecution case were the injuries to Brown's hands and fingernails.
He told police he was assaulted by two men the night before Miss Armstrong's body was found on the floor of his Brisbane office.
He said during the attack his hands were bitten.
Police dismissed the assault as "fantastic" and
alleged Brown sustained the injuries as Miss Armstrong fought off a
sexual advance before her death.
But Dr Moles said the crime scene evidence failed to support the police theory.
Bronia had been involved in the altercation with Reg, then I would have
expected to find significant damage — blood transfer to Bronia's
fingernails and teeth, and bruises to her face and hands. None of that
was present," he said.
He said police "got the wrong person".
Moles, who played a key role in the successful campaign to quash the
conviction of Adelaide man Henry Keogh, said the Brown conviction could
be successfully appealed.
Bitten hands, cuts 'a sign of defence wounds'
Queensland detective Alicia Bennett — who has written a book about the
case — has no doubt Brown was the murderer, saying his injuries are
consistent with the police case.
"The fingernails being bitten, cuts on his knees, these are all significant defence wounds," she said.
Leading forensic pathologist Dr Byron Collins, however, disagreed.
the information presently available, if the injuries to Reg Brown's
hands are indeed bite marks, they are more likely to have been sustained
during an assault than as a result of Bronia Armstrong fending him
off," he said after examining transcripts of the court evidence.
Family secret revealed