Attorney-General Vickie Chapman has today announced that cabinet had approved an ex gratia payment, saying “the settlement of Mr Keogh’s claim is the most appropriate course of action”.
Keogh was released from prison after the court of criminal appeal quashed his conviction in 2014 for the murder of Anna Jane Cheney, who died in 1994, after it found there had been a miscarriage of justice due to flawed forensic evidence put forward by the state’s former chief forensic pathologist, Dr Colin Manock.
Keogh was freed pending a retrial, but the DPP subsequently dropped the case.
Chapman said today the government “have executed a deed of settlement with Mr Keogh”, who will be paid $2.57 million “in full settlement of any claim against the state and taxpayer”.
“Let me be clear – there is no winner in this case,” Chapman said.
“There will be some in the community who take the view that this settlement is an amount that is hardly adequate for a person who has spent 20 years in prison in respect of a conviction that has been quashed… on the other hand there are those in the community who take the view that Mr Keogh should not receive one cent.”
Chapman said “the view of Mr Keogh’s innocence or guilt, or otherwise, is academic in my assessment of this matter”.
“There has been a miscarriage of justice – a man has spent nearly 20 years in prison,” she said.
“They are the facts.
“There’s no question that 25 years down the track, we will probably never know what happened in respect of the circumstances around Ms Cheney’s death.”
She said the settlement was made “in full recognition of the risk to the people of SA of not only a substantial financial claim [but] the prospect of further litigation in respect of civil matters”.
The Attorney said the request had been “sitting on the table before government since May last year”.
She said the Cheney family had been informed of the payment, and asked that their privacy be respected.
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