Killer tells court of a miscarriage of justice in Quirk case

MURDERED: Amanda Quirk.
MURDERED: Amanda Quirk. File

AN IPSWICH man sentenced to life in jail for murdering his flatmate has argued a miscarriage of justice occurred at his trial in October last year.

Christopher James Swan, 39, was convicted of torturing and bashing Amanda Quirk to death in their Booval home and dumping her body in northern NSW forest.

The jury could not reach a verdict on the criminal responsibility of fellow flatmate Rachel Narelle Smith, 41.

Barrister David Shepherd, acting for Swan, told the Court of Appeal yesterday that his client should have had a separate trial because the joint proceeding was fraught with difficulties for the 12 jurors to reach separate verdicts.

He also said they were not trained lawyers which made it "impossible and unfair" to ask them to assess the credibility of Michelle Mondientz, who had claimed she earlier saw Smith and Swan bashing Ms Quirk.

Mondientz is serving a jail sentence for bashing her "best friend" and helping remove the body but she was not present for the violence that caused her death.

She told jurors she had bashed Ms Quirk, that she had mental health problems and was known to hallucinate when on drugs.

But Mr Shepherd said using her testimony, when her credibility was in doubt, to determine if Swan was the primary offender was unfair.

The Crown argued the jury could have found Swan was the primary mover, even in a separate trial and without relying on Mondientz' testimony.

The barrister said Swan admitted, during his police interview, he bound Ms Quirk twice and hit her once, that the jury could have assessed the evidence as a whole and concluded he lied about his true involvement.

Appeal court justice Cate Holmes said it would have been a "tricky" task for the jury to assess Ms Mondientz' credibility separately for each accused person.

The Court of Appeal reserved its judgment.

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