true crime

How Henry Keogh served 20 years in prison for a murder that never happened.

Henry Keogh spent 20 years behind bars for a murder he didn’t commit. In fact, there was no murder, no crime at all.

In March 1994, 38-year-old Henry and his 29-year-old fiancée Anna-Jane Cheney, were just six weeks away from getting married. After returning home from a few after work drinks, Anna-Jane decided to take a bath while Henry visited his mother.

When Henry returned home around 8.15pm he found Anna-Jane submerged in the bath. She had drowned.


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

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 the police soon turned on 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.

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 life sentence.

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.

Sallie-Anne Huckstepp: The Woman Who Knew Too Much on Australian True Crime. Post continues… 

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

On this week’s episode Henry Keogh speaks to Sunday Night about his cruel ordeal at the hands of the Australian justice system, and his renewed determination to help others suffering a similar fate.

This SUNDAY NIGHT Major Investigation hosted by Melissa Doyle airs on Sunday at 7.00pm on Seven.