Adrian Bayley launches appeal over legal aid refusal

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Convicted murderer and rapist Adrian Bayley is fighting Victoria Legal Aid’s decision not to fund his latest legal action, his lawyers claiming the denial is a breach of the Charter of Human Rights.

An independent reviewer for legal aid backed the decision to refuse him assistance in August, over the conviction of two out of three counts of rape from May this year which would likely reduce his non-parole period from 43 years to 35 years.

According to a report by the ABC, Bayley, who is currently serving a life sentence for the rape and murder of ABC employee Jill Meagher in 2012, mounted a challenge in the Supreme Court after Victoria Legal Aid stopped representing him.

Bayley’s pro bono lawyers are representing him in a hearing in the Supreme Court to force Victorian Legal Aid to fund the appeals.

Lawyer Saul Holt reportedly told Justice Kevin Bell that two years of the life sentence had already been served, which was not taken into consideration in his sentence on the rape convictions.

“[That's the difference] at that end of a person's life, [between] any hope of a person having any time in the community... or none at all,” Mr Holt said.
“[That] hope should not be extinguished.”

He told the court that on those grounds, the legal aid service should have appealed.  He also said that the public interest in the case, taken into account on the basis that funding the appeals could jeopardise “public confidence in the stewardship” in the service.

“It's an irrelevant consideration,” he said.

He said that he is entitled to public assistance because as a prisoner, he couldn’t afford his own representation and that denying it is a breach of the Charter of Human Rights.

Lawyers for the legal aid service told the court yesterday that it is not obliged to fund all actions.
 
  • Prof Phillip Hamilton on 10/12/2015 11:45:14 AM

    Legal A
    id should not be compelled to fund every appeal placed before it. In all cases, Legal Aid should prefer meritorious cases where there are genuine issues to be heard on appeal. Pro bono firms may represent these cases of their own motion. If the appeal court upholds the appeal, it can also direct payment of costs. Legal Aid is not obliged to support every loudly trumpeted appeal regardless of merit.

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