MKG-newThe recent case that has been reported regarding Matthew Leveson whose body has been found in the National Park south of Sydney, raises many interesting legal questions but not as many answers.

The facts in short are that in 2007 Matthew Leveson was killed and Michael Atkins was charged with his murder. Atkins was tried and in 2009 he was found not guilty of that murder.

There was subsequently a Coronial Inquest and Atkins refused to give evidence, as he is able to do, presumably on the basis that the evidence he gave may incriminate himself. The Coroner, to force Atkins to give evidence, subsequently gave him a certificate under section 61 of the Coroner’s Act, which means that evidence he gives cannot be used against him in any criminal proceedings.

In October 2016, Atkins gave evidence, however a lot of what he said, by his own admission, was untrue. This could have opened him up to being charged with perjury as the section 61 certificate only protected him from any murder charges.

Atkins then said to the Police, if you indemnify me from any charges for perjury I will take you to the body of Leveson.

There was subsequently a lot of a discussions between the Coroner, the NSW Attorney General, the Police and the family of the deceased. It was agreed that Atkins would show the Police where the body was, but only on the basis that he would not be charged with perjury.

Atkins subsequently showed the Police where the body was and it was exhumed a couple of weeks ago.

The question is, can Atkins be put back on trial for his involvement in the killing of Leveson? There would need to be fresh and compelling evidence that is admissible, that shows that Atkins was responsible for his death.

Knowledge of the place of the body would not be sufficient as he may have discovered it whilst bushwalking or by some other cause. Atkins DNA on Leveson would also not be enough, as they knew each other well and you would expect to find Atkins DNA on the body.

A farfetched example of what might be fresh and compelling evidence is, if a gun was found with the body and it was established that the cause of death was a shot from that gun. Further there would need to be fingerprints on the gun of Atkins.  That may be fresh and compelling evidence.

What happens next, from a legal perspective, may not be fresh, but it will be compelling.

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