He killed her, but he didn’t murder her.
In the eyes of law, Gerard Baden-Clay did not murder his wife Allison.
But he did kill her.
The Queensland Court of Appeal has overturned Baden-Clay’s conviction of murder, and in its place the court has delivered a verdict of manslaughter.
Gerard Baden-Clay’s conviction overturned:
But what does that mean?
It means Baden-Clay’s sentence — life imprisonment with a 15-year non-parole period — has been set aside, and his lawyers will make submissions as to what his sentence for manslaughter should be in January 2016.
— Nine News Brisbane (@9NewsBrisbane) December 8, 2015
What is the difference between manslaughter and murder?
Manslaughter is a lesser charge than murder — and you do not need to have had the intent to kill to be convicted of this crime. In Baden-Clay’s case, his legal team argued that there wasn’t enough evidence for a jury to reasonably find he had intended to kill, and that there was enough evidence to support an alternative theory of an unintentional killing, followed by a panicked cover up.
The judges ultimately agreed.
“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 with her head hitting a hard surface) without intending to cause serious harm,” the judgment says.
“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.”