Why Henry Keogh served 20 years in prison for a murder that may never have happened.

henry keogh anna jane cheney

 

Henry Keogh spent more than 20 years behind bars for murder.

The divorced father-of-three became known as the “body in the bath” killer and his case continues to divide the Adelaide community.

In March 1994, the 38-year-old was just six weeks away from marrying his 29-year-old fiancée, Anna-Jane Cheney.

According to The Inquirer, the couple’s relationship began as a secretive two-year affair. Henry would later leave his wife and his three young daughters to be with Anna-Jane.

On a fresh autumn night, the couple enjoyed a few drinks after work at the Norwood Hotel. They had several glasses of wine and shared some potato wedges.

They then returned to the home they shared in Adelaide’s north-eastern suburb of Magill.

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Anna-Jane complained of a sore back and decided to take a bath, while Henry went to visit his mother who lived nearby.

When Henry returned home around 8.15pm that night, he found Anna-Jane’s lifeless body submerged in the bath.

He tried to perform CPR on his fiancée and called emergency services.

At first authorities believed it was a terrible accident, Anna-Jane had slipped in the bath, knocked her head and fallen unconscious underwater.

henry keogh anna jane cheney
Henry and Anna-Jane. Image: Sunday Night.

Summing up the call-out later at the nearby Holden Hill police station, one officer noted in the station’s journal, “No suspicious circs, appears drank bottle of wine during evg at hotel, gone home, sat in bath, fallen asleep, drowned. No signs of struggle etc on body at all”.

But soon the police turned their investigation towards Henry and he was arrested for the murder of his fiancée.

In police interviews, members of the Cheney family raised concerns that Anna-Jane had substantial life insurance policies – with Keogh named as the sole beneficiary. They also made it clear they didn’t trust Keogh and suggested that he might be involved with other women.

In fact, two women came forward during the trial claiming they had affairs with Keogh while he was living with Cheney.

According to Ten Daily, a state forensic pathologist concluded that Henry held Anna-Jane by the ankles and pushed her down into the bathwater to drown, a jury agreed, and Henry was given a 25 year non-parole period.

The forensic pathologist, Dr Colin Manock, had three decades of experience and had performed over 10,000 autopsies.

Manock told the court he was “at no time happy that the death was accidental because I could find no explanation as to why she would have drowned”. He insisted there was no medical evidence to support defence suggestions that Cheney might have fallen asleep, fainted or slipped in the bath, having drunk four or more glasses of wine earlier in the evening, before sliding beneath the water unconscious.

Instead, Manock drew attention to four marks on Anna-Jane’s left calf, which he said were consistent with bruising caused by someone gripping her lower leg shortly before death.

However, what Henry’s defence team didn’t know at the time, is that Manock’s reputation was unravelling, and he was soon exposed as unqualified in key areas of expertise, and his conclusions were eventually debunked.

Henry and his supporters always maintained his innocence and in 2002 they launched their first appeal.

In their complaint, the defence team stated the bruising on Cheney's leg was not a match for a thumb mark and could have been up to several days old. The team highlighted the infeasibility of the drowning scenario, pointing out the killer would have had to stand where the wall was for that scenario to pan out. The defence also claimed that Manock did not consider any other possibilities in the murder and did not make the body available for a second autopsy.

South Australian Deputy Premier Kevin Foley said the Supreme Court could not find there had been a miscarriage of justice in the case.

Henry's team went on to launch three more unsuccessful appeals in 2007 and 2009.

On December 19, 2014, Henry's conviction was set aside by the Full Court of the Court of Criminal Appeal. He was released on bail on December 22, 2014.

henry keogh anna jane cheney
Henry and his current wife Faye. Image: The Sunday Project.

He was initially supposed to be retried in early 2016, but then the DPP announced they would not be preceding with a retrial.

In July 2018, the South Australian Government announced they would pay Henry $2.57 million in compensation.

As ABC News reports, Henry, now 63, says no amount of money will make up for the time he spent behind bars.

"[But] I can move forward with my life and have some degree of financial independence and security for me and my family," he told ABC News. 

Speaking to The Inquirer, Henry said a promise he made to his family got him through his 20 years in prison.

“I could’ve easily checked out, quite easily, but I couldn’t and wouldn’t do it to them,” he explained.

“I’d seen documentaries on the aftermath of suicide and I didn’t want to do that to them… it would’ve been an easy way out and meant the liars had won.”

Henry is now remarried to a woman named Faye Hambour, who he met while he was in jail. Faye became interested in Henry's case and would later advocate on his behalf.

As The Inquirer reports, Henry and Faye now live together in a two-story townhouse in Adelaide's inner west.

Henry says his not angry or bitter about his experience and just wants to move forward.

The Cheney family, however, will not give up the fight for justice. They haven't ruled out the possibility of taking civil action against the man they still believed murdered their loved one.

Despite his conviction being set aside, Henry remains a person of interest in the case.

"The people who do know me either know I didn’t do it or believe I didn’t do it and that’s good enough for me," he told The Sunday Project. 

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