Gene Gibson (left) has had his conviction for the manslaughter of Josh Warneke (right) quashed in the Court of Appeal.The mother of Josh Warneke has describedtoday as a “great day” after theCourt of Appeal on Wednesdaythrewout the convictionof the manjailed for killing her son.
Gene Gibson, who is from the remote desert community ofKiwirrkurra, was serving seven-and-a-half years behind bars over the death of JoshWarneke, the 21-year-old who was found dead on the side of a Broome highway in February 2010.
MrWarneke’smother Ingrid Bishop haspreviously said she did not believe Mr Gibson killed her son.
Mr Gibsonappealed his convictionon the basis he suffered a miscarriage of justice because he did not have the cognitive ability or language skills to understand what was happening.
The Court of Appeal quashed Mr Gibson’s manslaughter conviction on Wednesday morning. He is expected to walk free from jail later today.
A series of flawed police interviews with Mr Gibson two years after MrWarnekedied had been deemed inadmissible in court, forcing prosecutors to drop a murder charge and accept Mr Gibson’s guilty plea to manslaughter.
A Corruption and Crime Commission report concluded the botched interviews had exposed systemic failures in the police force.
In a statement released shortly after the appeal decision was handed downMs Bishop said: “Today is a great day as it’s the beginning of the next stage of Gene Gibson’s life as a free man after nearly fiveyears in gaol.
“I am so happy for Gene and his family. It’s been a long haul for everyone involved and to see him walk free is one of the most profound moments of my life.
“In 2014, I lodged my application to the CCC requesting an investigation into Josh’s murder and as I have said over the past several years, Gene is innocent.
“I wish Gene, Alamay(Mr Gibson’s mother) and his family all the very best as they start the next stage of their livesand wish them strength and courage as they begin to heal and rebuild.”
Ms Bishop said the appeal process hadalso highlighted “numerous deficiencies” with those who had defended Mr Gibson at the time he was charged.
“There must be consequences for this as Gene and his family have borne the full impact of this failure,” she said.
“For us, Josh’s family, we go back to the 26thFebruary 2010.
“Although not ideal, there is a new government, new leadership and a new team investigating Josh’s murder. We are positive, strong and looking forward to the case being re-opened with a fresh start”.
Mr Gibson, 25, testified in the WA Court of Appeal that he wanted to plead guilty to the offence after his lawyer told him to and warned him several people had made statements against him.
Mr Gibson said he couldn’t recall if he told his lawyer during a prison visit, when an interpreter wasn’t present, that he didn’t commit the crime.
He also testified he gave a false confession to police because they showed him photographs and said they had witnesses.
Mr Gibson said he was frightened and could not understand everything.
“The police were showing me statements of the two ladies and they kept asking me … if I killed the white boy, that’s why I said I did it,” Mr Gibson said.