R. v. Hunter

The appellant and the victim were married for 37 years. On 6 May 2010, the victim was struck at least 15 times on the head, face, and forearm with severe force, causing her death. When police arrived, they found the victim’s body doused in petrol in the garage near her car.. Police found the appellant lying on the floor in the lounge room in the house with a head injury and had a letter opener sticking out of his right hand. The appellant was taken to hospital and later interviewed by the doctors and police. The appellant told police that he got out of bed, walked into the lounge room, and was hit on the head by a man wearing a stocking over his head. Throughout this interview and later investigations by the police, the appellant maintained that there was an intruder who entered the house, assaulted him, and then killed his wife. At trial, the Crown’s case against the appellant included several pieces of circumstantial evidence:  the victim was covered by appellant’s clothing, someone attempted to clean up the blood with towels, the victim was doused in petrol but not ignited, indicating that someone tried to destroy DNA, the footprints around the victim’s body matched footwear commonly worn by appellant, the appellant’s DNA was on a bloody metal bar found near the victim’s body, the metal bar appeared to come from the household, blood in and around the house matched victim’s and appellants, appellant had dried, flaky blood on him, the appellant gave inconsistent accounts of the events, appellant lied to officials, and appellant had the motive to kill her because he had financial difficulties and was the beneficiary of her life insurance. In light of the evidence, the appellant was convicted of  murdering the victim.The appellant filed an appeal on the grounds that the trial judge erred in  (i) directing the jury that they could use appellant’s lie in relation to the murder weapon belonging to him as implied admission of his guilt; (ii) directing the jury that they could use appellant’s lie about owning footwear similar to that which left footprints around the victim’s body as implied admission of his guilt; (iii) admitting the lack of reaction from the appellant when learning of his wife’s death as evidence of his guilt; (iv) failing to direct the jury in relation to evidence that the appellant did not ask how his wife died; (v) misdirecting the jury in relation to motive; and, (vi) failing to direct the jury in relation to evidence of DNA analysis. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, finding that the trial judge did not err in jury instructions or admissions. 

Geographical location 

Year 

2014

Jurisdiction 

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