Shandee Blackburn.
Shandee Blackburn. Peter Holt

LAWYER: Blackburns 'blinded by hatred of former boyfriend'

UPDATE: A LAWYER has accused Shandee Blackburn's family of being so blinded by their hatred for her former boyfriend they have ignored a "powerful case" against William Daniel for her murder.

Barrister Craig Eberhardt, for John Peros, questioned why a jury of 12 men and women had not been allowed to listen to the evidence against Mr Daniel, like they did his client, and decide for themselves.

Mr Peros was charged in 2014 and acquitted of murder in 2017. Mr Daniel has never been charged. Both maintain they were not involved in Shandee's death.

During submissions to Coroner David O'Connell, Mr Eberhardt said it was clear the Blackburn family did not believe Mr Daniel was responsible for killing Shandee.

"It is regrettable the Blackburn family are so blinded by their preconceived ideas about John Peros' guilt and their hatred for him that they would instruct their lawyers to ignore the substantial body of evidence strongly implicating

William Daniel that is staring them in the face," he said.

Police at a crime scene on Boddington Street, East Mackay, after Shandee Blackburn was stabbed to death on February 9, 2013.
Police at a crime scene on Boddington Street, East Mackay, after Shandee Blackburn was stabbed to death on February 9, 2013. Lee Constable

Mr Eberhardt told the court the police and the Blackburns' solicitor Kristy Bell had "confirmation bias" against Mr Peros accusing them of torturing the evidence to suit their theory and ignoring anything that exonerated him.

Outside court Shandee's mother Vicki Blackburn said they just wanted "truth and justice" and for the person responsible to be held accountable "whoever it is".

"We have no choice, Shandee had no choice that night," Ms Blackburn said.

"Obviously the person responsible is the one who should be held responsible and nobody else.

"What happened that night six and a half years ago has put us on this journey … and we're hoping that (this inquest) will find at least the truth for us now that more evidence has come out."

The inquest heard Mr Daniel was a crucial witness during the coronial probe due to the number of rumours linking him to Shandee's death.

Mr Eberhardt said Mr Daniel was known to carry knives at the time, was violent, drug affected, had allegedly planned a robbery in the area the night of Shandee's death and confessed to his friend Levi Blackman shortly afterwards. He has alleged Shandee's death was a robbery gone wrong.

The inquest heard Mr Blackman gave two scenarios for the alleged confession. Mr Daniel denied that it occurred.

Mr Eberhardt recommended Mr Daniel and Norman Dorante, who he alleges was with Mr Daniel when he killed Shandee, be referred to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for murder and that Mr Blackman be referred to the DPP for perjury.

Mr Dorante has not been charged and denies any involvement in Shandee's death.

The inquest heard Mr Blackman had allegedly either lied under oath during a Crime and Corruption Commissions hearing, supreme court trial or during the coronial probe.

Mr Eberhardt said there were also a number of other people who could have killed Shandee based on testimonies heard during the inquest.

Coroner David O'Connell adjourned the inquest for his findings, which he said would take some months. He also told Mr Peros that his Toyota Hilux would be returned to him.

Vicki Blackburn said she was hopeful of getting answers and planned to "take a break" from the "emotional roller coaster" of the past two weeks.

"It was just very exhausting and draining to sit through that," she said.

"What we want to do now is, as we've always wanted to do, is take away something positive from anything we do.

"We want to take a bit of advice from (Mackay Police Crime Prevention Unit) Sergeant Nigel Dalton and look at what we can do towards safety … while we're waiting for the findings and to see what follows after that.

"One thing that's become obviously clear to us is that anything we do now is reactionary. We can't change anything, it's too late for us, it's too late for Shandee.

"If we're all proactive and we help each other and we help the police … that may stop someone being in our position."

Evidence against him 'overwhelming' 

BARRISTER Craig Eberhardt has accused the lawyer for Shandee Blackburn's family and some police involved in the murder investigation of "torturing the evidence" to suit their theory against John Peros.

Yesterday solicitor Kristy Bell, for Vicki Blackburn, said the evidence against Mr Peros in the death of Shandee in February 2013 was "overwhelming" despite the fact a jury acquitted him in 2017 of murder.

Ms Bell submitted the coroner could refer the case back to office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to consider a murder indictment.

Under Queensland double jeopardy laws, a person can only be retried if there is fresh and compelling new evidence against them.

Coroner David O'Connell asked if there was new evidence and Ms Bell conceded there was not.

"In my submission, the findings I have urged upon your honour would be sufficient to found a reasonable suspicion that Mr Peros has committed an indictable offence and in light of that ... having formed such a suspicion accordingly your honour would refer the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions," Ms Bell said.

"What indictable offence?" Mr O'Connell asked.

"Murder your honour," Ms Bell said.

Mr O'Connell pointed out that Mr Peros had already been tried for murder.

John Peros leaves Mackay Court House on day three of the Shandee Blackburn inquest.
John Peros leaves Mackay Court House on day three of the Shandee Blackburn inquest. Caitlan Charles

"I don't for one moment contend that the directors office would take action that it hasn't already taken, but my submission is simply that (section 48 of the Coroners Act) urges upon you honour to nonetheless forward the matter to the directors officer for consideration."

Mr Peros maintains his innocence and denies any involvement in Shandee's death.

Today Mr Eberhardt, acting for Mr Peros, has resumed his submissions in the inquest into Shandee's death.

He has accused the police and Ms Bell of "confirmation bias" and ignoring crucial evidence that exonerated his client.

Mr Eberhardt referred to taxi driver Jaspreet Pandher's description of the two people struggling over a handbag and shortly later a running man.

Both Counsel Assisting the Coroner John Aberdeen and Ms Bell submit it was Shandee's attacker and thus Mr Peros. He has denied this.

The inquest heard Mr Pandher described the man and woman involved in the struggle as being the same height, but Mr Eberhardt said Mr Peros was about 26cm taller than Shandee.

Mr Eberhardt also picked at the timing of a running figure captured on CCTV footage sprinting towards Boddington St just after Shandee was captured walking in the same direction saying it was impossible for that to be the same person Mr Pandher had seen as he was driving on Boddington St.

Mr Eberhardt said there was no evidence the running figure got anywhere near the crime scene.

"It is impossible to identify the running figure as male or female," Mr Eberhardt said.

"There is no evidence the person who ran over and the person who ran away, if they're the same person, was involved in the murder or went anywhere near the murder scene."

Mr Eberhardt said there was no evidence Mr Peros knew Shandee was back in town, what shift she was working, that she had finished early or that he went to Harrup Park Country Club at any relevant time.

"You can infer that she was clearly unconcern about walking home alone at night," Mr Eberhardt said, adding that her route took Shandee right past Mr Peros' home.

 

Taxi Driver Jaspreet Pandher coming out of day one of the Shandee Blackburn inquest.
Taxi Driver Jaspreet Pandher coming out of day one of the Shandee Blackburn inquest. Daryl Wright

Mr Eberhardt told the inquest when police first seized Mr Peros' Toyota Hilux in the days after Shandee was killed, it had not been cleaned.

The inquest heard police had taken samples from the vehicle, which Mr Aberdeen and Ms Bell have argued was the vehicle of interest captured on CCTV driving near Boddington St the night of Shandee's death.

"If he had been (involved in) a murder you can expect that he would have cleaned his car," he said.

"There was no evidence that there was any blood in the car let alone Shandee Blackburn's blood."

Mr Peros told police he cannot really recall what he did the night Shandee died. He said he may have taken a drive but believed he stayed home and watched television.

Mr Eberhardt said his client's lack of memory on certain points seemed to be taken as an indication he was lying but argued saying he could not recall was "actually an indication of truth".

He alleges police decided "Mr Peros was right for it" and ignored any evidence that pointed towards William Daniel because he was related to an officer in Mackay.

Mr Daniel has never been charged and denies any involvement in Shandee's death.

Mr Eberhardt's submissions continue.

 

Shandee Blackburn inquest: Family's call for more safety

THE family of Shandee Blackburn have called for coronial recommendations to include the installation of better quality CCTV cameras and lighting around Mackay in the interest of public safety.

"Of particular importance to the Blackburn family is taking a proactive approach to crime prevention," solicitor Kristy Bell, for Shandee's mother Vicki Blackburn, said while making submissions during an inquest into the 23 year old's death.

"Detection is important, but it brings cold comfort to families in circumstances such as these."

 

Shandee Blackburn was killed on Boddington St in the early hours of February 9, 2013.
Shandee Blackburn was killed on Boddington St in the early hours of February 9, 2013. Contributed

Ms Bell said Shandee's family respectfully request Coroner David O'Connell recommendations take in a number of considerations including a recommendation that late night licensed venues allow late shift employees without "access to safe and secure transport" home to use the existing courtesy bus on request.

Shandee was stabbed to death on Boddington St just after midnight on February 9, 2013 as she walked home from work.

"I would ask that your honour make recommendations for furtherance of the Community Camera Alliance program as it seems to represent a more affordable and achievable solution for increasing CCTV coverage of particularly suburban areas of Mackay," Ms Bell said.

The family would also like to see Automated Number Plate Recognition cameras installed at the entry and exit points of Mackay's main arterial roads and that any street lighting upgrades use LED lights with dual fittings.

The inquest heard from Mackay Police Crime Prevention Unit Sergeant Nigel Dalton, who performed a safety audit of the area where Shandee was killed as well as the Mackay CBD.

 

Sergeant Nigel Dalton leaves the Mackay Court House after giving evidence in the inquest into the death of Shandee Blackburn.
Sergeant Nigel Dalton leaves the Mackay Court House after giving evidence in the inquest into the death of Shandee Blackburn. Caitlan Charles

He told the inquest that in 2016 the Community Camera Alliance was launched allowing business and homeowners to register their private CCTV cameras with police.

It was a voluntary system that was mapped with the police QPRIME system and gave extra possible evidentiary resources with a crime occurred.

Sgt Dalton expressed disappointment that there were only 163 current registrations saying it was "a lot lower than I would expect".

Ms Bell said perhaps consideration could be given "to the provision of incentives such as free installation of cameras or discounted purchase price for CCTV cameras that could be achieved through sponsorship of private businesses".

Ms Bell suggested a recommendation for the coordinated installation of such cameras in conjunction with police.

Barrister Craig Eberhardt, for John Peros who was acquitted of Shandee's murder, will resume his submissions to the coroner this morning.


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