By Karen Percy.
Justice Kevin Bell ruled a recent decision by Victorian Legal Aid’s independent reviewer to deny Bayley assistance was invalid.
Bayley was already serving a life sentence over the 2012 rape and murder of ABC employee Jill Meagher when his non-parole period was increased from 35 to 43 years in May when he was found guilty of additional rape offences.
He wanted Legal Aid to continue to represent him to appeal those convictions, but it was refused.
Legal Aid represented Bayley in the Jill Meagher case and in the other rape cases, but refused to assist him to appeal those convictions.
Justice Bell said the decision was made despite an acknowledgement by Legal Aid and the independent reviewer, John Nixon, that two of three appeals had a strong case of being successful and could lead to a reduced sentence for Bayley.
“It is not lawful to reject an application for legal assistance, including for legal assistance in relation to a criminal appeal, upon the sole ground that the applicant is a notorious and unpopular individual who has already been convicted of and sentenced for heinous crimes,” Justice Bell said in his 29-page published reasons.
“It has been established that the result of the decision bespeaks error, that the decision lacks an evident and intelligible foundation and that the decision could only have been arbitrary.
“Therefore I infer that the decision was legally unreasonable. It is thereby invalid.”
The court has ordered that a different independent reviewer consider Bayley’s application.
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