A man convicted of murder three decades ago has had his conviction quashed after winning an appeal based on advances in medical science which showed an ulcer which resulted in the victim's death was not caused by stress during a robbery.
Chris von Deutschburg won his appeal against his 1983 conviction for murdering 86-year-old Stavros Kakulas after the Court of Appeal this morning found there had been a miscarriage of justice at his trial.
His conviction was set aside and he was acquitted.
In a unanimous decision handed down this morning, Court of Appeal president Carmel McLure and Justices Michael Buss and Robert Mazza found the medical evidence before the court was incapable of proving beyond reasonable doubt that Mr von Deutschburg's assault on Mr Kaklus caused or "materially contributed" to his death.
Mr Kakulas died from internal bleeding from an ulcer about a week after he was attacked during a robbery at his home in June 1983.
Mr von Deutschburg pleaded guilty to burglary but argued that he did not mean to harm Mr Kakulas.
He was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in jail, but has since been released.
Decades after the conviction, a petition was handed to former attorney general Christian Porter with material from Nobel Prize winner Barry Marshall, who along with fellow laureate Robin Warren had proved bacteria, not stress, was the main cause of ulcers.
"In my opinion, when the whole case (including the evidence of Professor Marshall and [Chief Forensic Pathologist] Clive Cooke) is examined, the only reasonable conclusion open is that Professor Marshall's and Dr Cooke's evidence raises such a doubt that the appellant should not have been convicted of murder," Justice Buss said in the decision.
Mr von Deutschburg was not in court this morning for this decision but a man who was on the jury which convicted Mr von Deutschburg was present.He said he was emotional about the decision.
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