Gary Clifford Blackman (centre) outside Lismore Court House with sister Jennifer Blackman and nephew Ben Blackman after his acquittal on Thursday after four years in custody over murder charges.
Gary Clifford Blackman (centre) outside Lismore Court House with sister Jennifer Blackman and nephew Ben Blackman after his acquittal on Thursday after four years in custody over murder charges. Hamish Broome

Woman stomped to death, but her killer is free

THE lawyer who represented a man found not guilty of killing his partner believes it's unlikely anyone will ever be convicted of the crime.

Defence lawyer and accredited criminal law specialist Cameron Bell said it's also not likely the innocent man who remained in custody for four years will be eligible for any compensation.

53-year-old Nicole Weate's body was found, beaten, on the Tomewin property where she lived with her partner, Gary Clifford Blackman, in early April 2014.

Four years after being charged with murder, Mr Blackman, 65, was this month acquitted after a judge-only hearing before Lismore Supreme Court.

Another Northern Rivers solicitor, Carl Edwards, has called on police to launch further investigations.

"A woman has been stomped to death in a shed and as it stands the killer remains free, and that is a matter of grave concern to the entire community," Mr Edwards said.

Mr Edwards has called for more police resources to find justice for Ms Weate after what he claims was a "questionable" investigation.

He said Mr Blackman should also be able to seek compensation after his four years in custody.

But Mr Bell said there were, sadly, not grounds for compensation.

"In order to be able to get compensation you have to be able to show the police ... didn't do their job properly," Mr Bell said.

"There's no evidence of that.

"It's unfortunate, but there's nothing that could be done about it in the circumstances."

The prosecution had relied on five alleged "admissions" in presenting their case.

But when the case was nutted out over the course of the three-week hearing, the court heard Mr Blackman's admissions were made under duress.

Mr Blackman contradicted all five of these admissions as early as April 29, 2014.

In his judgement, Justice Richard Button said he was convinced key prosecution witness Thomas Miringaorangi had "threatened the accused with violence unless he confessed to murdering the deceased".

Mr Bell said while it was "unfortunate" his client spent so much time in jail, Mr Blackman's eventual acquittal was "fantastic".

He said part of the four-year delay was caused by a process in which Mr Blackman was found to be unfit for trial due to a "degenerative mental condition".

During Principal barrister Jason Watts asked Mr Miringaorangi if he had, in fact, killed Ms Weate.

Mr Miringaorangi denied this and was protected from having anything he said in court used against him.

A certificate issued by Justice Button which allowed Mr Miringaorangi to speak openly about goings-on at the Tomewin property - to provide information required by the court - also protect him against anything which could implicate him in Ms Weate's death.

This includes when he muttered to the accused: "I should have f***ing killed you too, c**t."

"Anything that he said in court can't be used against him," Mr Bell said.

Police have been approached for comment but previously told The Northern Star there were no direct plans to lay fresh charges in relation to Ms Weate's death.



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