Wrongfully jailed man sues government
A QUEENSLAND man who was wrongly jailed for a bank robbery has sued the state government and the lead detective alleging evidence was manipulated to make him look guilty and exculpatory evidence was hidden.
Terry Irving, 64, an unemployed pest controller from North Queensland, was in the Supreme Court in Brisbane today before Justice Sue Brown where he is claiming damages from the state and former detective Helen Pfingst over his wrongful jailing for the March 1993 armed robbery of an ANZ bank branch in Cairns.
He was sentenced to seven years in prison, and served five years in prison, where he contracted hepatitis C from shooting up with heroin, witnessed suicides and was strip searched which left him devastated, the court heard.
In 1997 the High Court quashed his conviction saying it had ``grave misgivings'' about the original conviction and citing concerns about police evidence.
The High Court ordered a retrial. No retrial was ever held.
Barrister Gerard Mullins, for Mr Irving, told the court in his opening address that Ms Pfingst manipulated the evidence against Mr Irving because she didn't believe the evidence against him was strong enough.
Mr Mullins told the court that Ms Pfingst also failed to disclose evidence that was exculpatory to Mr Irving, and damaging to the prosecution case, and that would help Mr Irving's defence, and that she told "untruths" about the state of the evidence.
Mr Mullins submitted that Ms Pfingst was pressured to make the evidence "stack up" against Mr Irving because it was a "big case" and "it was her chance to prove herself" to her superiors.
Ms Pfingst did not give evidence at Mr Irving's trial, the court heard.
The hearing is set down for two weeks and Mr Irving intends to call seven witnesses as part of the trial.
Giving evidence today Mr Irving cried on the witness stand as he recounted how he was charged with a robbery as a 16 year old and tried as an adult.
Mr Irving said he had a rough childhood with a violent father growing up in Cabramatta in Sydney's south-west, and ended up in the Minda boy's home for break and enter offences, then Long Bay prison in Sydney for robbery.
Mr Iving said after he was released from prison in 1978 he got married and turned his life around, working as a mail sorter for Australia Post then for pest controller Rentakill.