Oct 15, 2010

Cairns abortion trial: guarded optimism for reform process

After less than an hour of deliberation late yesterday morning, the jury in the trial of Tegan Leach and Sergei Brennan delivered their verdict: not guilty on both counts, writes Caroline de Costa.

After less than an hour of deliberation late yesterday morning, the 12 Cairns citizens appointed to the jury for the trial of Tegan Leach and SergeiĀ  Brennan stood firm before Judge William Everson and delivered their verdict: not guilty on both counts.

Immediately there was sustained applause from the public gallery, which was filled with friends and supporters of the young couple, and pro-choice activists, who had continued their vigil for reform of Queensland abortion law for nearly four days outside the Cairns courthouse.

Free Trial

Proudly annoying those in power since 2000.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’sĀ terms and conditions


Leave a comment

33 thoughts on “Cairns abortion trial: guarded optimism for reform process

  1. arnold ziffel

    It’s like something from the 60s, or worse.
    Cops as moral guardians?
    Qld cops?

  2. mark

    Yes, you have to wonder about Sergeant Worth’s agenda. “ello, ello, ello. What have we here? Sergie, me lad, you’re nicked.”

  3. Limited News

    Another disgusting abuse of power by the Queensland DPP.

    Brings to mind the persecution/prosecution of Pauline Hanson. I also recall a rather iffy case against a Magistrate.

    Interesting that they were all women.

  4. Gavin Moodie

    It looks as if the cops were trying to catch the couple on anything cos the search on the initial suspicion (recreational drugs?) turned up nothing.

    I don’t think it sufficient to assert that the Premier and the Government should reform the law. The premier has pointed out several times that while she is pro choice, if the matter were reopened by Parliament the right to lifers would have enough numbers to extend the criminalise abortion. So you have to address the claim that notwithstanding that there is clear popular support to liberalise abortion laws, the majority of parliamentarians are right to lifers.

  5. freecountry

    This is a verdict which triumphantly illustrates the value of trial by jury.

    For many years there have been studies of the competence and usefulness of juries, and recurring calls to abolish them from the criminal justice system.

    But the importance of juries is not based on their competence relative to that of judges. The point of juries is to be a circuit breaker against unjust laws or unfair charges. A law on which juries refuse to convict, is just a piece of paper without any power.

    Judges never tell juries this, but every jury has the authority to return a not guilty verdict–no matter what. Even if the charge is murder, even if guilt is proven beyond doubt, even if there is no defence. If the jury disagrees with the charge, they can acquit the accused and there is nothing anybody can do about it.

    Long live trial by jury.

  6. Damien

    Gavin’s got a point. Maybe the fact that the jury wouldn’t convict is reason enough for the Queensland Government to do nothing, especially given it’s popularity at the moment. It is Queensland after all. Why would you kick a sleeping dog if you didn’t know who it would wake up and bite?

  7. michael dwyer

    This was a disgraceful action by the Queensland authorities. Unless a jury can be handpicked, no Australian panel will ever deliver a guilty verdict in an abortion case.
    What are governments afraid of- abortion should be decriminalized. Legislating against abortion is as effective as legislating against the tides. Consider the example in Victoria in the 1960s- the homicide squad had a nice little earner from a group of medical abortionists, and rich people could afford abortion. The price charged was about two months gross earnings for a girl in her late teens, who either went to a cheaper knitting needle abortionist (occasionally fatally), had the baby immediately adopted, went through a shotgun marriage or committed suicide. The appointment of several devout catholics to the homicide squad suddenly saw the arrest of the leading medical abortionists, and rich people had to go interstate for their abortions. It is a mystery as to why the complexion of the homicide squad changed so dramatically. Traditionally catholic cops looked after liquor and gaming- which their co-religionists did not think were mortal sins, whilst freemasons and atheists had homicide- again people who may not have thought abortion to be evil. Thanks to Dr Bertram Wainer the racket was exposed, with several former homicide cops going to jail for soliciting bribes. An enlightened ruling by Judge Menhennit virtually legalised abortion in Victoria.
    I have no doubt that anti-abortionists’ beliefs are sincerely held, but that doesn’t give them the right to interfere in the lives of other people who do not share their beliefs.

  8. SusieQ

    Many of us already think Queensland is decades behind the rest of the country in so many ways – this awful business just confirms that, doesn’t it? A very eloquent article, thanks for publishing this.

  9. Jonathan Maddox

    Dear Crikey website administrators …

    When the daily email contains a link “Read the full story on our website” after an article has been truncated, it would be REALLY REALLY NICE if the continuation point were marked with a neat score mark or a note in the margin (or even “… continued from page 3” as we’re used to in the print media). It would even be cute if there were an anchor so the link from the email brought us to this continuation point so we didn’t have to remember a phrase from the last paragraph in the email and search down to it in order to keep reading.

    No particular comment on this article … good reporting of an important issue that I would guess is not very contentious amongst current company, even if debate might lead to derailment in some public circles.

Leave a comment

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details