And finally… guilty until proven innocent

A judge embarrassed himself after he referred to a defendant as “Mr Guilty” during a fraud trial, an Australian appeals court has heard.

Tasmanian Chief Justice Alan Blow prejudiced the trial with his Freudian slip according to special counsel Mark Rinaldi who told the Court of Criminal Appeal it had led to a “prejudice or irregularity” in the trial process.

The defendant, Shaun Matthew Dimech, was convicted of fraud in May but is now seeking to have the conviction overturned The Australianreported.

Mr Rinaldi said: “It is a unique situation; it’s unfortunate; it rarely happens but it is fundamental to the right to a fair trial.”

However, it is thought judges will dismiss the ground given as the Crown did not have to make a response.

Judge David Porter said the error would not have been misinterpreted and would probably not have impacted the jury’s decision because he was reading from written material given to the jurors.

However, it is not entirely clear why this would not prejudice the jury’s decision.

Mr Dimech was found guilty on 21 counts of dishonestly acquiring a financial advantage or attempting to do so by making online bets before reporting them as being unauthorised and recovering the money through a bank reimbursement.

Referring to the accused as “Mr Guilty” is becoming a judicial trend, with the exact same thing having happened in two Canadian cases.

In both cases, however, the defendants failed in their appeals.

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