Perth criminal lawyer Dr. Clint Hampson’s diverse and extensive experience and knowledge helped secure the freedom of Scott Austic, man who spent over a decade behind bars, convicted of a crime for which he was later acquitted.
PLEASE NOTE: This blog and the links featured include references and images of a deceased Aboriginal person.
The Scott Austic case
In 2007 West Australian woman Stacey Throne was murdered, receiving 21 stab wounds while at her home in Boddington. Stacey Thorne’s lover Scott Austic was charged with wilful murder, and in 2009 sentenced to life in jail.
During the course of the investigation, police learnt Stacey Thorne was pregnant with Scott Austin’s child, and that in a text message ten days prior, had pleaded with her not have the baby. This detail was put forward as motive.
Scott Austic maintained his innocence, and in 2010 his appeal was refused. His case came to the attention of Legal Pathways’ specialised criminal defence lawyer Dr. Clint Hampson, forensic scientist and former police officer, who began investigating.
Discrepancies in the evidence
During a thorough forensic review of the evidence, Dr. Clint Hampson discovered that several key exhibits that had been relied upon by the State in convicting Mr Austic, including a bloodied knife, a bloodstained cigarette packet and a Jim Beam can, had been discovered in suspicious circumstances after earlier searches had identified no items of interest.
Initial forensic photographs/video of Mr Austic’s house showed no cigarette packet covered in Stacey Thorne’s blood on a table in the rear veranda. However, later photos used in court showed a cigarette packet in frame.
Likewise, initial forensic footage reveals no Jim Beam can near the victim’s home. Yet in later images, an empty beer can with Scott Austic’s fingerprints suddenly appears.
An initial search by the forensic team and an experienced SES team of a paddock between Mr Austic’s and the victim’s homes found no murder weapon (knife) – however a day later, police detectives discover a knife in the very area that had been previously searched. The knife contained the victim’s blood and DNA, but did not contain Austic’s blood, fingerprints or DNA. There was no evidence at all that Austic had ever touched the knife.
Dr. Clint Hampson continued sifting through the evidence, digging deeper into the case. Bloodied footprints found at the scene did not belong to Scott Austic. According to housemates, Austic was home at the time of the murder.
Seeking expert input
With a growing list of new evidence and an increasing number of troubling questions, Dr. Clint Hampson approached Malcolm McCusker QC, former governor of Western Australia and eminent barrister, who lent his time to the case.
Leading independent forensic pathologist Dr Richard Shepherd examined the murder weapon. Dr. Shephard pointed out while the width matched the wounds, he believed the 10cm blade could not have created the fatal wounds that had depths more than 10cms.
Scott Austic wins appeal over life sentence
After a failed petition in 2011, Dr Clint Hampson submitted a further petition to the
WA Attorney-General John Quigley in 2018. He referred the case back to the court of appeal, after Dr. Clint Hampson’s efforts highlighted issues with the evidence previously presented. After a lengthy appeal hearing in 2019, the WA Court of Criminal Appeal quashed Mr Austic’s conviction for murder and ordered a retrial.
- Scott Austic won a retrial in May of 2020.
Dr. Clint Hampson verified there was doubt over the evidence. “Put aside Scott’s innocence or guilt – where there’s serious doubt over the key pieces of evidence, that’s what went to the appeal, and that’s what the decision for retrial was based on.”
Scott Austic acquitted of murder at his retrial
In November of 2020, a retrial in the WA Supreme Court found Scott Austic not guilty with the jury only needing hours to reach a unanimous verdict. Now a free man, Scott Austic is considering seeking compensation for his wrongful conviction.
Legal Pathways is proud of Dr. Clint Hampson’s efforts that contributed to the release of Scott Austic. His dedication to carefully examining all the evidence pertaining to the case is the level of professionalism our boutique law firm delivers.
Details of the Stacey Thorne murder case was covered by 7 News in 2019, and can be viewed below: