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October 16 - 22, 2009
The Independent Weekly news
State Government documents
released to Henry Keogh s
legal team are being used to
step up pressure for a review of his
conviction almost 15 years ago.
The documents, released by
the state Forensic Science Centre
late last year, reveal previously
unknown forensic evidence and
expert pathology conclusions that
seem to contradict those presented
to the jury at Keogh s trial.
The revelations have triggered
a fourth official petition for mercy
by Keogh to the Governor, Kevin
Scarce, to have his conviction
overturned or at least for the case
be sent back to the court of criminal
Keogh was found guilty in 1995 for
the drowning murder of his fiancee,
The death of the attractive
and successful 29-year-old
solicitor shocked Adelaide s legal
mmunity and devastated
er family: her father,
Dr Kevin Cheney, mother
Joanne and brother Marc.
On the night Cheney
died, Keogh called an
ambulance and was said
to have attempted mouth-
only managing to dislodge
vomit from her throat.
He later told police he
had returned home from
a visit to his mother s
house in the evening and
had found Anna-Jane in a
y filled bath.
Those who knew Keogh at the
time recalled he appeared stunned
and in shock in the days that
Police initially treated the death
However, South Australia s
then-chief forensic pathologist,
Dr Colin Manock, performed the
autopsy on the body and noted a
series of bruises on Cheney s lower
left leg which he concluded were the
result of a grip.
In raising his suspicions with
detectives, Dr Manock cited the
famous case of the Brides in the
Bath, in which famed pathologist
Bernard Spilsbury discovered the
repeated method by which George
Joseph Smith had murdered three
of his wives. Each one had been
found drowned in a bathtub.
The case became famous because
it was the first time in which
similarities between connected
crimes were used to prove
In the case of the death of Anna-
Jane Cheney, however, Dr Manock
told police that the Brides in the
Bath case was relevant in that it
suggested a plausible way in which
Keogh had murdered his fiancee.
Dr Manock concluded that a "grip
pattern" of bruising was consistent
with an assailant grabbing Cheney
by the lower left leg, lifting it, and in
so doing, leveraging Cheney s head
under the water of the bath until
she was drowned.
Several weeks later, after
uncovering evidence that Keogh
had faked life insurance policies
covering Cheney and had conducted
affairs with other women, police
charged Keogh with Cheney s
Most South Australians recall a
sensational trial involving affairs,
money and an elaborate and brutal
murder and may be comfortable
with the verdict handed down to
Keogh, however, has always
protested his innocence, and has
been supported by a determined
group of criminal law activists as
well as his ex-wife and their three
daughters, who were not even in
their teens when he was convicted.
Fifteen years into a 26-year
non-parole sentence, Keogh is
imprisoned at Mobilong Prison,
Murray Bridge. It is a medium-
security faciliy reserved for
well-behaved prisoners. Before
Mobilong, Keogh served in SA s two
maximum-security jails, Yatala in
Adelaide and then in Port Augusta.
To those who have met him
in jail, he appears a well-built,
thick-necked man with powerful
forearms and large hands.
A visitor described him as a
man with a put-upon air, perhaps
wounded pride, perhaps still
affected by the events of March 1994
and their aftermath.
Keogh s fourth petition, filed with
the Governor in January, contains
three small but unmistakable
revelations, stemming from the
release of previously confidential
documents from SA s Forensic
Science Centre late last year.
The new information in the
petition shows that forensic
evidence and conclusions that
would have undermined the state s
case against Keogh were not
revealed to the jury.
The petition claims to have
identified specific physical evidence
in the form of skin samples and a
key photograph of the body, as well
as written records by one of the
state s two pathologists who gave
evidence at the trial, Dr Ross James,
that undercuts the basis on which
the jury deliberated.
Most seriously, the fourth petition
alleges the jury was misled by the
two state forensic pathologists, Dr
Manock and his junior colleague Dr
Ross James, in the trial.
In a report written in 2000 by
Dr James for his employer, the
state Forensic Science Centre, and
released to the Keogh team late last
year, Dr James makes the explosive
admission that he did not believe
the forensic pathology evidence
pointed to Cheney being murdered.
The admission is at odds with
conclusions of his former boss,
Dr Manock, that Anna-Jane was
murdered -- a conclusion which,
while disputed by defence experts,
was nonetheless believed by the
jury in finding Keogh guilty.
In the report, James writes: "I
don t think that the post mortem
findings by themselves prove
homicide. In this regard, I gather,
my views differ from those of Dr
Manock. Most importantly I think
that the post-mortem features are
sufficiently suspicious that the case
warranted further investigation
by the police to clarify the
circumstances of her death."
He goes on to opine about what
evidence the jury relied on in
making its decision, namely the
circumstantial evidence about
Keogh s motive, not the pathology:
"The evidence that resulted from
New mercy plea in
The trial was
money and a
brutal murder. But
as Bob Devine
reports, the Henry
Keogh case is far
Keogh has always protested his innocence and
has been supported by a determined group of
criminal law activists as well as his ex-wife and
their three daughters, who were not even in
their teens when he was convicted.
Henry Keogh, who was found guilty of the 1994 drowning murder of his fiancee
Anna-Jane Cheney (pictured left, with Keogh) in 1995, is working with his legal
team to have his conviction overturned or for the case to be reviewed.
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