Justice campaigners have called on the WA Government to increase a compensation payment to a deaf and mute man who was jailed for 15 years for a murder he did not commit.
The State Government awarded Darryl Beamish an ex-gratia payment of $425,000 in 2011 in recognition of his wrongful conviction for the wilful murder of Jillian Brewer, a 22-year-old chocolate heiress who was killed while she slept in her Cottesloe apartment in 1959.
Beamish narrowly dodged execution and was imprisoned in 1961, only clearing his name in 2005 when WA’s Court of Appeal exonerated him, saying the murder was most likely committed by serial killer Eric Edgar Cooke, who was hanged in 1964.
While Beamish was delighted when he received the payment, justice campaigners Bret Christian and Brian Tennant say it was mean-spirited of the WA government to not grant the full $500,000 requested by his lawyer.
In Christian’s book “Presumed Guilty” released last month, the Post Newspapers editor claims the State Government’s reasons for saving $75,000 were spurious.
Factors listed behind the decision included; a lack of conclusive finding of significant misconduct by prosecutors or police; Mr Beamish’s previous offending behaving; and the Court of Appeal’s acknowledgement of the strength of the case that existed against him at the time of his original appeal.
Christian says police misconduct was not an appeal issue, although a false confession extracted from Beamish - on which the strength of the case rested - had always been challenged.
And Mr Beamish’s offending behaviour occurred well after the Brewer murder.
“There was no mention that, as Darryl Beamish had not murdered Jillian Brewer, some diabolical process, not of his making, must have led Darryl to confess to a murder he had not committed,“ Christian writes.
Mr Tennant said Mr Beamish should receive the same compensation as Andrew Mallard, who was awarded $3.25 million for 12 years wrongfully spent in jail for the murder of Mosman Park jeweller Pamela Lawrence.
Attorney-General Michael Mischin said he was not aware of a request, or of any basis, to revisit Mr Beamish’s payment.
“Applications for ex gratia payments are dealt with on a case-by-case basis with a view to giving finality to the particular case,“ Mr Mischin said.