Convicted murderer and serial rapist Adrian Bayley has been denied legal aid for his appeal to reduce his minimum 43-year jail sentence.
Bayley, 46, who was given a life sentence for the 2012 rape and murder of ABC staffer Jill Meagher, has launched a high court action in response to Victorian Legal Aid (VLA) refusing to fund his appeal of two further rape convictions.
Aside from Mr Bayley’s 35-year sentence for the Jill Meagher case, he was also found guilty of three violent rapes for which he had his non-parole period extended to a minimum of 43 years. Mr Bayley wants to appeal the extension of his sentence.
The VLA had funded Mr Bayley’s appeal against his sentence for murdering Ms Meagher, which led to a review into legal aid funding of the appeals of convicted criminals.
And although Mr Bayley feels that the VLA’s refusal to fund his appeal goes against the Charter for Human Rights, a legal aid spokesperson says an independent reviewer has upheld its decision.
According to a VLA statement: “The independent reviewer makes decisions about funding separately from Victoria Legal Aid and is a robust check and balance on our decision making. The independent reviewer must take into account factors specified in the Legal Aid Act when deciding whether to grant funding in a case.”
“In this matter the independent reviewer upheld VLA’s decision not to grant funding.”
Mr Bayley is now challenging this decision in the Victorian Supreme Court.
The reviewer has stated that the decision to refuse funding for Mr Bayley’s appeal was based on “ensuring public confidence in [Victoria Legal Aid’s] stewardship of the funds which are limited.”
According to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, VLA has made “the right call” and the State Government will back any defence of its actions.
“I think Legal Aid has made exactly the right call, exactly the right call,” said Mr Andrews. “I support them in defending the judgement that they’ve made to deny Adrian Bayley any public resources at all. If the Government needs to join that action, then we will.”
Shadow Attorney General John Pesutto has also backed VLA’s decision, saying that legal aid’s budget is already limited and it has a duty to ensure that any funds are directed at those who need it most. He also stated, “Victorians would be outraged to learn about his attempts to get taxpayers to pay his legal bills.”
“How much more anguish must this man cause the family of Jill Meagher and Victorians who were horrified by his actions?” said Mr Pesutto.
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What do you think? Has Victorian Legal Aid made the right call? Or should Mr Bayley’s appeal be funded? How do you feel about taxpayer money being used to support the appeals of convicted killers? Do you think Mr Bayley has a case?