January 22, 2004


Good news, so far as anything associated with this case can be good:

Zdravco Micevic has been charged with manslaughter over the death of former Australian Test cricketer and Victorian coach David Hookes.

Micevic is still out on bail. The amount? Just $2000.

Posted by Tim Blair at January 22, 2004 03:11 PM

Why so low ? Perhaps $2000 is a prohibitive fortune in Australia?

Posted by: Papertiger at January 22, 2004 at 04:15 PM

It was that low because he was bailed when the charge was common assault. It would have been unreasonable (and unprecedented) to ask for more. As Ken Parish noted:

It would have been legally difficult for a magistrate to refuse bail in those circumstances, whatever his personal views. Arguably the fault lies with the police failure to lay appropriately serious charges. On the other hand, perhaps such charges are being considered, but they want to make sure of the facts and evidence first, and obtain DPP advice. That might well be the most prudent way to proceed, given that it seems unlikely in the short term that Micevic would offend again (especially in view of his bail conditions).

Posted by: Robert at January 22, 2004 at 04:18 PM

Bail should really only be denied where there is a flight risk. And really, what's the benefit of having the guy locked up now unless you think that he's about to flee the state or the country? It's in the interests of justice that he have the freedom to liaise with his lawyers now so that he can put the most effective case forward - and then, if he's guilty, get locked up with as little chance as possible to appeal on the basis of irregularities in his trial.

This doesn't satisfy the immediate desire for vengeance that many may feel, but a well thought out and fair justice system rarely does.

Posted by: Tiu Fu Fong at January 22, 2004 at 04:44 PM

The Bail Act in Victoria is surprisingly lenient towards assault/physical crimes rape etc.

Charges are graded in 3 categories - Exceptional circumstances, show cause and unacceptable risk.

Exceptional circumstances and show cause require the charged to demonstrate why they should be granted bail. Murder is in exceptional circumstances.

Unacceptable risk requires the police (or DPP) to show why the accused shouldn't be granted bail.

The guy charged in this case would have fallen under the "unacceptable risk" category (firstly under the inital GBH charge, then manslaughter), and even then the police/DPP have to establish all of the following 4 conditions for bail to be refused:

- the accused would refuse to answer bail
- commit an offence on bail
- endanger the safety/welfare of the public
- intefere with witnesses/obstruct the cause of justice

By my reckoning, the accused would have failed the middle 2 conditions, not the 1st and 4th.

Posted by: hideyhole at January 22, 2004 at 05:23 PM


He'll get 2 years, 12 months with parole, 8 months with good behaviour - by the time his trial concludes he'll be ready to walk home to momma.

In a post-Christian society life just don't count. It ain't a precious, god-given thing that shouldn't be taken by men.

Ref Peter Singer, the Euthanasia Enthusiasts, anti-foetusists etc. This Brave New World really stinks of Death.

Posted by: Arik at January 22, 2004 at 05:54 PM

May be so, but the guy is receiving more death threats than I receive Nigerian scam emails. Probably won't make it to trial.

Posted by: Johnny Wishbone at January 22, 2004 at 07:09 PM

In the UK we allways send real criminals to jail...


What a state we're in!

Posted by: Rob Read at January 22, 2004 at 09:10 PM

Hey, you guys in the UK started this mess by sending your crims to Australia !!

Posted by: Johnny Wishbone at January 22, 2004 at 10:01 PM

How can this only be manslaughter? Manslaughter is if you do something accidentally, or negligently, like roaring out of a parking lot in a fury at being overcharged and accidently run over the attendant. If you chase the attendant for five minutes with your car first, it's murder. This guy hit Hookes from behind, that's the claim, right? With deadly force? Did someone not explain "murder" to Australian prosecutors?

Posted by: Mike G at January 23, 2004 at 12:00 AM

"Hey, you guys in the UK started this mess by sending your crims to Australia !!"

BS mate entrepreneurs!

Posted by: Gary at January 23, 2004 at 12:36 AM

Ok this case really shows the difficulty of attempting to try a case by media reports. Shock horror, most reporters couldn't properly report a case if their lives depended upon it. I have no opinion on this case until the facts come out but from a legal perspective I was:

i: surprised that vicpol were such pussies (sorry andrea) in their charging; and

ii: not surprised at all that the ALLEGED (not wanting to be a lefty but let's all remember the presumption of innocence huh!) perp got bail when he was only charged with assault and frankly if he is only charged with manslaughter then it is still not shocking that he might get bail; and

iii: not knowing the law in a non code state but if he simply hit Hookes and then Hookes had a heart attack as opposed to the usual pub brawl scenario of smack fallback and hit your head on the curb then it might just be manslaughter instead of murder

Posted by: lawyerboy at January 23, 2004 at 01:17 AM

Lawyerboy, I'm not suggesting summary execution but withholding bail doesn't require presumption of guilt, just charges-- and reasonable suspicion that if the accused is a foreign-born sort accused of beating someone to death, you might want to 1) not let him flee the country 2) not let him beat anybody else in the interim.

Posted by: Mike G at January 23, 2004 at 01:42 AM

Mike G

Ok fleeing is a good point but the problem with your second point is that at the moment he hasn't been accused of beating someone to death ie murder and your presumption that he might do it again assumes he did it in the first place. Now I know that we have all read the newspaper reports which I am sure will proved to be 100% accurate (/irony) but in the interim until the facts have been sorted out the presumption of innocence should be given a burl.

I am a lawyer and whilst I am sure Mike that you like so many of my clients do not think of yourself as a criminal but rather as an upstanding citizen you would be surprised at how easy it is to be accused of a serious offence. You seem to be jumping from charging to sentence and leeping over that pesky proof beyond reasonable doubt business.

Posted by: Lawyerboy at January 23, 2004 at 01:58 AM

Lawyerboy, I'm not a lawyer but I'm married to one and hey, I watch Law and Order a lot, so I feel fully qualified to comment here...

Seriously, you're still missing my point. I'm not saying anything about sentencing. I'm not saying anything about the trial, evidence, any of that. But this guy IS the guy that the prosecutors plan to prosecute. Now whether or not they will be successful is anybody's guess. But they are in the process of constructing a case right now and as with anyone else about whom they feel that seriously, they have the right-- and the public has the expectation of them-- to take certain precautions to prevent a suspect from either absconding or committing other violent crimes. In this phase, in a sense, they DO presume guilt to the extent of taking certain precautions, which are (or at least should be) much less onerous or permanent than actual punishment while still protecting the public.

Instead the guy puts down a few bucks and goes his merry way. I am not convicting him to feel that that's an unacceptable chance they're taking.

Posted by: Mike G at January 23, 2004 at 06:10 AM

I just knew the Victorian Govt. shouldn't have sold Pentridge Prison.

It would have been a perfect spot for Micevic. Perhaps holed up in a cell with convicted double murderer, Gregory 'Bluey' Brazel, just to keep the St Albans lad on his toes.

The big brother system works well in the general community. I can't see any reason why it wouldn't be just as effective behind bars.

Lights out, Zdravco.

Posted by: Peter Hoysted at January 23, 2004 at 02:57 PM

It never ceases to amaze me that someone can hit a person and then, when that person they hit becomes seriously ill or even dies, they say "But I didn't mean to ..." Well, what exactly did you mean?
If you hit someone there is always the chance that they might die. That is the bottom line. So perhaps before you hit someone you should think about consequences and responsibility.
It is a sad indictment on our society that these days in some circles it is 'acceptable' to physically injure someone who owes you money, or who says something you don't like or who looks at you...

Posted by: Kae at January 23, 2004 at 03:21 PM