Paint the picture for juries: Avery

JURIES should be told of defendants’ criminal records before reaching verdicts, retired Western District police commander Locky Avery says.

Retired Western District police commander Locky Avery has mixed views on the jury system.

“They don’t present the defendant in a true light (in court),” Mr Avery said.

“The defendant turns up in a suit and it’s ‘yes sir, no sir’.

“You know he’s got a record as long as your arm and the jury’s not exposed to that because there might be bias.

“You should be allowed to paint the picture.”

Juries only hear of prior convictions after they deliver their verdicts.

The legal system’s thinking is, past crimes are not evidence of guilt in live cases, and disclosing them might lead to unfair verdicts.

Mr Avery was also frustrated judges could not be told of police suspicions after convictions, and when bail was being considered.

“Some of them have offended so many times,” he said.

“You can’t say: ‘There’s 25 other jobs we know he’s done.’ “

In one case this year, a man was on trial in the North-West for serious matters at a time when the offending was still going on and police were continuing to find evidence of it.

Mr Avery had mixed views on the jury system but did not favour replacing it with judges deciding on guilt or innocence.

“Judges don’t come without their own biases,” he said.

His main issue with the jury system was the ability of lawyers to challenge and have removed prospective jurors, saying the lawyers often had potentially reasonable jurors removed.

He was also annoyed by how, in his view, the court system was not about getting to the truth.

“The premise from your parents is to tell the truth,” he said.

“The justice system doesn’t encourage anyone to tell the truth.”

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