Rare mercy rule for man in bizarre brothel murder case
A HISTORIC law, introduced so kings and queens could pardon prisoners, will be used to free a Queensland man at the centre of a bizarre gangland murder case.
The man's family was last night celebrating their victory after fighting for years to get the governor to use the royal prerogative of mercy rule that remains in Queensland's Criminal Code to reduce his sentence.
"This is just bloody marvellous, we can't believe it," one relative last night said.
The case involves a soured brothel sale, a botched kidnap and extortion, a bloody gun fight, a successful self-defence plea and a murder sentence.
However, the prisoner at the centre of it all cannot be named after he spent years in protective custody for helping police convict the brothel owner who ordered the extortion.
The Courier-Mail can reveal Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath yesterday advised Governor Paul de Jersey to reduce both the man's sentence and non-parole period by 12 months, making him immediately eligible for parole.
Ms D'Ath's decision was based on a Court of Appeal opinion she received in June last year.
"The petitioner can now apply to the independent parole board, which will make the final decision regarding his release," a spokeswoman said.
Successful prerogative of mercy cases are rare, with 257 applications lodged since 1992 while there have been eight examples of the governor exercising the authority in some way since 2000.
Senior Queensland legal figures have expressed astonishment that a prerogative of mercy case was even put before the court, let alone approved.
However, the nine-month delay acting on the court's advice angered the family and resulted in the prisoner being wrongly told he could apply for parole last month.
Yesterday's decision meant the prisoner became eligible for parole in November last year after being sentenced to an almost 20-year term for murder in NSW in 2007.
The Court of Appeal opinion said the man and an accomplice attempted to kidnap a brothel owner as he exited his car at the back entrance of a new bordello he was building.
"(The brothel owner) resisted and was shot and killed as he tried to escape," the court said. "He sustained in excess of 12 bullet wounds."
Three years later the kidnappers got into a dispute which resulted in a firefight and the death of the accomplice.
The man successfully argued self-defence at the court case about the killing of his accomplice and pleaded guilty to the brothel owner murder on the basis that it was his partner who gunned him down.
Queensland's Court of Appeal found the man deserved a further reduction in his sentence after helping police convict the rival brothel owner who ordered the extortion.
"The assistance provided … extended over a period of more than five years, involved numerous episodes of contact with police, including acting as a police agent and giving evidence in (the rival brothel owner's) committal proceedings, despite fears for his safety."