Australian man granted leave to appeal murder conviction

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Australian man granted leave to appeal murder conviction

Australia's highest court has allowed a man found guilty of murdering his wife by pushing her wheelchair into a pond to appeal his conviction.

Peter Rex Dansie, 73, was sentenced to life in prison for killing his wife, Helen Dansie, in Adelaide's southern parklands.

In April 2017, Mrs Dansie drowned in a pond in Veale Gardens.

Dansie lost a bid to appeal his conviction in South Australia's Court of Criminal Appeal two years ago.

Today, two High Court judges dismissed Dansie's application to appeal, but Justice Kevin Nicholson said he would have quashed the conviction because the evidence did not rule out the possibility that Mrs Dansie might have drowned.

It would be dangerous to allow the verdict of guilty of murder to stand, Justice Nicholson said.

The High Court granted Dansie's application for special leave to appeal the majority decision of South Australia's appeal court.

The High Court unanimously found South Australia's Court of Criminal Appeal misapplied the law and allowed Dansie to appeal against his conviction.

The matter will be sent to the South Australian Supreme Court for rehearing.

In allowing the appeal, the High Court said the Supreme Court needed more than mere satisfaction to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

The majority of the Court of Criminal Appeal misapplied the approach required to be taken, the appellant argues.

The argument of the appellant is well founded.

The appeal must be allowed.

The test was administered by the Court of Criminal Appeal and asked whether he was independently satisfied as a result of his assessment of the whole of the evidence adduced at the trial, that the appellant deliberately pushed the wheelchair into the pond with the intent to drown his wife. Mr Dansie's son Grant said he was hugely disappointed that the appeal had been granted.

He said it's like a never ending story.

When Dansie was sentenced to a non-parole period of 25 years two years ago, Justice David Lovell said Mrs Dansie's murder was an ultimate act of domestic violence and described it as an evil and despicable act. During the trial, prosecutors alleged Dansie murdered his wife because he viewed her as a cost burden.

In the 1990s, Mrs Dansie, a former microbiologist, suffered a stroke that left her with long-term disabilities.

At the time, the court heard that she was on an indexed pension for life, a large portion of which Mr Dansie was entitled to be her full-time carer.

Justice Lovell established a dual motive for the murder — a deterioration in Dansie's feelings for his wife and an interest in pursuing a sexual relationship with another woman overseas.