‘Question mark’ raised over murder trial
A career criminal who was sentenced to life in jail for using a white sheet to smother a Brisbane woman to death has asked Queensland’s highest court to re-examine his case.
Jacob Michael Smith, 43, was found guilty of murdering his long-term friend Anthea Mari while she slept next to her two sick daughters in the living room of their Norman Park home on August 26, 2014.
A large-scale manhunt ensued when Smith ran from the home, not before raping another person and stealing some of Ms Mari’s personal items.
At the time of the murder, Smith had only been out of jail for 18 months after serving more than 10 years for a prison killing.
Midway through his murder trial in 2018, Smith pleaded guilty to rape, attempted rape, assault and stealing offences.
He was sentenced to life in jail for Ms Mari’s murder, and concurrent jail terms of eight years for the rape, three for the attempted rape and 12 months’ jail for the assault.
Smith, who is appealing his conviction, appeared via video in the Queensland Court of Appeal this morning where he requested that his appeal hearing be reopened.
He claims that during his hearing, his legal team abandoned the grounds of his appeal he had asked to be raised, without his consent or knowledge.
Justice Walter Sofronoff explained the Court of Appeal had also raised a “question mark” over whether the sexual offences Smith pleaded guilty to should have been separated from the murder trial.
“The evidence led against you in the sexual offence charges, and the fact that you pleaded guilty to them, became evidence in the murder case,” Justice Sofronoff said.
“So the question the court wants examined is whether that was a fair thing.”
The brief mention was adjourned so Smith could find another barrister to take his case on pro bono.
Justice Sofronoff said he expected a decision on Smith’s appeal to be reached by mid-September.
If he is unsuccessful, Smith will remain behind bars until August 2039 at the earliest.
Originally published as ‘Question mark’ raised over murder trial