Why Gerard Baden-Clay is a killer, but not a murderer

THE jury would have had little hesitation in accepting the Baden-Clays had a fight in the patio area of their Brookfield home, that Allison suffered a lethal injury and Gerard dumped her body at Kholo Creek.

The Queensland Court of Appeal accepted that much.

The late Allison Baden-Clay.
The late Allison Baden-Clay. Contributed


But the critical question was whether those 12 people could conclude Gerard Baden-Clay intended to kill his wife in April 2012.

"The evidence of financial stress and an extra-marital affair suggested a context of strain between the couple which might well have culminated in a confrontation but it did not provide a motive or point to murder rather than manslaughter," the appeal court judgment read.

Baden-Clay, who has always maintained his innocence, was convicted of murder in July last year after a five-week trial.

Today that murder conviction was downgraded to manslaughter after the state's highest court found the jury could not have been satisfied beyond reasonable doubt Baden-Clay intended to kill his wife.


He must be re-sentenced on the manslaughter conviction at a later point.

There was much made during the trial of the scratches on Baden-Clay's face, with experts concluding fingernails caused them while he maintained a razor made them.

His lawyers argued at appeal that the jury erred in concluding he lied about the scratches to cover up his actions, in order to help them convict on murder.

The appeal court accepted it was open to the jury to conclude the scratches were from fingernails but their existence could not prove murder.

"There is nothing about the facial scratches to indicate the circumstances in which they were inflicted; whether they occurred in the course of a heated and perhaps physical argument or in resisting a murderous attack," the judgment read.


The friends and family of Allison Baden-Clay leave the courthouse after hearing Gerard Baden-Clay's murder conviction would be dropped, and replaced with a manslaughter conviction
The friends and family of Allison Baden-Clay leave the courthouse after hearing Gerard Baden-Clay's murder conviction would be dropped, and replaced with a manslaughter conviction Rae Wilson


The justices also found the Crown argument that dumping the body could infer Baden-Clay was concealing evidence of an intentional killing "amounted to nothing more than speculation". 

The appeal court pointed to the couple's history and minimal physical evidence in the case too.

"There were no injuries on the body of a kind to indicate an intent to kill or do grievous bodily harm," the judgment read.

"Nor was there any sign of blood or evidence of a clean-up in the house to suggest violence.

"There was no evidence at all that there had ever been any violence in the relationship between the couple.

"A reasonably open hypothesis was that (Baden-Clay's) wife had attacked him, scratching his face.

"In endeavouring to make her stop he had killed her without intending to do so, with his conduct thereafter being attributable to panic.

Acting Attorney-General Cameron Dick is seeking legal advice about appealing today's decision on the fate of Gerard Baden-Clay. 

The Attorney-General must make a decision on any possible appeal within 28 days.


Peter Shields, the lawyer for Gerard Baden-Clay, asked the public to read the judgment themselves (see below).

"They'll then be able to read for themselves the very considered reasons of a very experienced court," he said.

"They explain in very simple easy-to-understand language how they came to the conclusion that they did.

"I think it's important for the public to understand that it's open justice … they can make their own view based on the facts as the court has."

Jodie Dann, Allison's cousin, said she was shattered and shocked at the appeal court's decision.

"The family are disappointed and saddened by the this process," she said.

"We would have liked for it to be finished today so the girls can move on.

"It's just added stress to what is already an extremely traumatic position for the girls to be in

"I don't know what our legal recourse is, the process is ongoing. We'll leave it to the experts to tell us what to do next.

"'Manslaughter can have a life sentence but that's up to the court to decide."



EARLIER: Baden-Clay's appeal against murder charge successful

THE Queensland Court of Appeal has upheld wife killer Gerard Baden-Clay's bid to overturn his murder conviction.

He has been found guilty of manslaughter instead and must make submissions on sentence.

The former real estate agent's lawyers argued in early August that the jury had erred in finding him guilty of murdering wife Allison at their Brookfield home in April 2012.

They told the court Baden-Clay could have unintentionally killed his wife Allison during an argument and dumped her body because "he panicked".

"While findings (Baden-Clay) lied about the cause of his facial injuries and had endeavoured to conceal his wife's body should not have been separated out from the other evidence in considering their effect, the difficulty is that, viewed in that way, the post-offence conduct evidence nonetheless remained neutral on the issue of intent," the judgment, handed down at 9.30am, read.

"To put it another way, there remained in this case a reasonable hypothesis consistent with innocence of murder: that there was a physical confrontation between the appellant and his wife in which he delivered a blow which killed her (for example, by the effects of a fall hitting her head against a hard surface) without intending to cause serious harm; and, in a state of panic and knowing that he had unlawfully killed her, he took her body to Kholo Creek in the hope that it would be washed away, while lying about the causes of the marks on his face which suggested conflict.

"Smothering, the Crown's thesis was a reasonable possibility, but while there was also another reasonable possibility available on the evidence, the jury could not properly have been satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the element of intent to kill or do grievous bodily harm had been proved."

Baden-Clay, who went to school in Toowoomba, has always maintained he did not murder Allison, who grew up in Ipswich, and claimed the scratches on his face came from shaving.

The jury in his trial must have concluded those scratches were from fingernails, and he had lied about them, to convict him of murder.


The family of Allison are disappointed by today's Court of Appeal decision, and remain supportive of the original findings of the court. They await the legal process to play out in the hope that justice for Allison will be served.

The family would like to thank the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for their ongoing efforts in seeking justice for Allison, as well as the broader public for their messages of support.

As always, the efforts of the family remain centred around the well-being of Allison's daughters, who now face a further period of uncertainty. They ask that the public continue to respect the privacy of the family.



Topics:  appeal editors picks gerard baden-clay

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