The corruption watchdog has found no misconduct by police over the conviction of Scott Douglas Austic for the wilful murder of his pregnant partner, but has highlighted "potential concerns" about two key pieces of evidence in the circumstantial case.
The Weekend West has been given details of the seven-month Corruption and Crime Commission investigation results by Austic's lawyer. Attorney-General Michael Mischin was also told of the results and has sought legal advice from the State Solicitor's Office on its effect on Austic's petition for his case to be referred back to court for an appeal.
Austic's petition, drafted by Malcolm McCusker before his appointment as WA Governor, alleges key evidence was "planted, withheld and misrepresented" during his jury trial in 2009 which convicted him of wilfully murdering Stacey Thorne in December 2007. Austic is serving a life term with a minimum of 25 years, but denies his guilt.
In a letter to Austic's lawyer, Justine Fisher, CCC commissioner Roger Macknay said the watchdog's probe was relevant to matters raised in the petition.
But Mr Macknay said the CCC's role was "quite distinct" from the function being performed by Mr Mischin in determining the petition. He said the CCC had formed no opinion of misconduct against any public officer involved in the investigation and also rejected allegations that State prosecutors failed to disclose evidence at the trial.
"However, there are some aspects of potential concern about the evidence gathered, principally with respect to the cigarette packet and the knife," Mr Macknay said.
"Whether, in all of the circumstances, the matters raised in the petition are considered for constitute fresh evidence is a matter for the Attorney-General."
Mr Macknay said it was "plainly of potential concern" that a cigarette packet with Ms Thorne's DNA was not visible in a video or photographs of a table at his house at the start of a search by police, but was found and photographed on the table the next day.
He said there were a number of possible explanations, including that the packet was planted by a police officer, but there was insufficient evidence to form that conclusion.Mr Mischin said he would make a decision on the petition "shortly after" getting advice from the State Solicitor's Office.