VICTIMS OF MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE
Ambrose Clarke’s life forever changed in May 2011, when he was wrongfully arrested for killing an ex business partner and jailed for life. The married father of six won his Appeal on causation, was released from jail after 4 years and then retried in 2019. Despite clear directions from the judge, there being no evidence beyond reasonable doubt to convict him, a jury found him guilty again. He is now facing another life sentence in jail. Experts have been shocked at the guilty result.
The First Trial
In 2013, a jury found Ambrose and Xavier Clarke guilty for the murder of Ambrose’s ex-business partner, Peter Davis. The prosecution alleged that after several attempts to recover his unpaid business debt of $330,000 from Mr Davis, Ambrose became more angry and desperate for money. The jury was told Ambrose enlisted the help of his brother, Xavier, and an unidentified third person to lure Mr Davis to the back of a warehouse in the outskirts of Perth, where they badly assaulted and somehow deprived Mr Davis of oxygen, causing him severe permanent brain damage. Then placing him unconscious but still alive in the back of Mr Davis’ own car, they wrapped him in plastic where he eventually died more than 6 hours later. The trial lasted 7 weeks. The defence called no experts, nor did they attempt to disprove the prosecution’s narrative with an alternative [defence] case theory. Xavier’s lawyers did not even call a single witness. Ambrose and Xavier were found guilty as charged and sentenced to life imprisonment. A close analysis of all the available evidence tells a different story.
After 4 years in prison, the Clarke brothers’ appeal was finally heard. Their new lawyers called in several eminent expert witnesses to testify. The most significant finding was, contrary to the State neuropathologist’s opinion, two outside experts reported that there was no evidence of brain damage or that Mr Davis had been deprived of oxygen. The new medical evidence went further to prove that Mr Davis in fact died suddenly due to heart failure directly discrediting the slow death narrative put by the prosecution during the trial. After many months of analysing the evidence, the panel of three Supreme Court judges found the State’s neuropathologist had mislead the jury in 2013 and failed in her duties to the court. The prosecution’s causation argument [what had caused Mr Davis’ death] had no scientific evidentiary basis. The judges quashed the conviction and ordered a retrial. The Clarke brothers were released from prison on bail a few months later.
After winning the appeal on the key point of causation (that is, Mr Davis suffered from severe pre-existing heart disease and had died of sudden heart failure – AND not due to the misleading previously alleged “brain damage”), the retrial was called to settle all other unanswered questions. The retrial judge told the jury this was a completely circumstantial case: no direct witnesses, no CCTV footage, no direct evidence to prove the brothers had murdered Mr Davis. The judge explained that this meant in order to reach a guilty verdict, they had to accept every single circumstantial finding pointed, beyond a reasonable doubt, to the Clarke brothers murdering Mr Davis.
With a new legal team, this time, the defence called medical (pathology & toxicology), DNA, and telecommunications experts. This time the defence, by analysing all the evidence found during the investigation, proposed an alternative theory, stronger than the state’s fictitious original narrative, of what might have happened to Mr Davis on the 30th May 2011. This time the defence called the police witnesses that the prosecution refused to call in the 2013 trial and still did not call in the 2019 retrial because their evidence directly contradicted the prosecution’s narrative, pointing toward the Clarke’s innocence.
The key aspects of this trial that were not dealt in the Appeal are summarised in a separate section (please click the button below to view).
The judge spent 2 days giving clear directions to the jury, restating the utmost importance of the Presumption of Innocence as a key principle of the Australian legal system. The jury could only convict the accused if they had been satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the prosecution’s case was the only explanation for the death of Peter Davis. The judge reminded them that they had to find no other reasonable explanations open to them on the evidence presented during the trial to find both guilty; not a single posibilty. The judge even went as far as to mention other reasonable explanations given by the experts and other witnesses supporting the defence case.
After the 17 weeks trial involving very complex scientific and forensic facts, in less than 9 hours, the randomly selected lay jury members came back with a guilty verdict. Ambrose and Xavier Clarke are looking at another life sentence in prison.
Outside the court, the family promised to fight on and to Appeal the wrongful conviction yet again. The entire legal battle has cost the family and their supporters millions of dollars. Ambrose Clarke’s family has asked for our support at MJSF since Legal Aid is not an option for his legal team. The money will be used to help fund legal and paralegal expenses for Ambrose Clarke. Your contribution will make an impact, whether you donate a lot or a little. Anything helps. Thank you for your support.
News coverage of the Clarke vs State case has seen quite a drastic change due to our involvement. We have added a few examples from the TV networks and major newspapers. The selections of video links cover the first trial, first appeal and retrial. It is not difficult to see the difference in media perceptions; the later reporting is much more balanced, reinforcing the importance of commenting to and working with media and social media outlets.
Ambrose & his family
Last family portrait in 2019 before the retrial which led to his wrongful conviction.