Key Evidentiary Aspects Dealt During Retrial
The state suggested that Ambrose’s motive to kill was financial desperation and retribution. In the 2019 trial, the defence revealed Ambrose’s bank statements showing that his family received the $250,000 from The Australian Taxation Office and Centrelink that he had said they were expecting. Even though the payment didn’t come through until June 2011 (after his arrest), this immediately discredited the State’s proposition of his desperation for money. The defence also provided the written correspondence between Mr Davis and the legal counsel acting for both himself and Ambrose, discussing settlement terms for the business debts. Also raised was the 21 day liquidation notice of Topseal delivered to Mr Davis. Again these directly disprove the prosecution’s premise that Ambrose’s anger was motivated by Mr Davis not paying the debts, when in fact there were movements towards them finally being paid. The State had no proof of Ambrose having motive to kill Mr Davis.
(2) The GEML Incident.
Just after midnight, the day Peter Davis went missing, there was an altercation in the rear carpark of the Great Eastern Motor Lodge (GEML), between Ambrose Clarke and Kurt Davis (the youngest son). Opposing stories were heard in court. Ambrose said it had to be a setup. Earlier that evening two strangers pulled up to his house, telling him “Alex has your money,” and to meet him at the GEML later that night. Alex Ioasa had arranged to meet Ambrose at hotels before as he organised World Championship Kick-Boxing Tournaments in Perth. Mr Ioasa was also a debt collector and at one point was contracted to assist the recovery of Ambrose’s debt. With no success over the months, Mr Ioasa made two attempts to talk to Mr Davis at Topseal before Ambrose amiably terminated the agreement. Hence, this arrangement to meet at GEML did not immediately incite Ambrose’s suspicion. Kurt Davis, on the other hand, stated that during his desperate search to find his father, he randomly chose to search the GEML back carpark where he coincidentally bumped (literally) into Ambrose. The defence during the cross-examination of Kurt, asked, “out of all the motels and hotels to search, why GEML?” Kurt’s explanation: it was completely random. Kurt then said after he found his father’s car and spotted Ambrose in back carpark, that Ambrose rammed his car. Several eye-witnesses contradicted Kurt’s recollection of the smash up, saying that his car was the aggressor and was blocking in the blue car (Ambrose’s) from exiting the parking lot. After Ambrose sped out of GEML, Kurt called the police saying he had found his father’s car and that “this is probably a murder case” already implicating Ambrose when the body had not yet been found.
(3) The Estonians.
Present in the prosecution brief, police investigations found Ambrose Clarke was introduced by Mr Ioasa to these young newly arrived Estonian martial arts competitors, who would work casually as labourers for him for three months in 2010. Unbeknownst to Ambrose, they had extensive criminal history in other states (extortion, human trafficking, assaults, falsifying passports, etc.). Police had found links of their activities and other suspicious persons to the death of Mr Davis but failed to find any connections of them or their activity to Ambrose in that particular regard. Because of this and their complete focus on Ambrose, the WA Police quickly dropped all lines of inquiry concerning the Estonians. During the retrial, the court heard that these men, who “would do anything for money,” knew of the debt between Mr Davis and Ambrose Clarke and that Mr Ioasa had been contracted to collect on a performance basis (10% of the value of the debt). They demanded Ioasa let them in on the deal. They also knew of Mr Davis’ sons; even where one of them lived. The knew and had worked on the site where Ambrose had dropped off the black plastic. They knew of Ambrose’s home address and had repeatedly accessed his unsecured carport when they were working for him. The jury also learned of their meeting with a person of interest the day prior to Mr Davis’ death, who had made death threats about Mr Davis at a work site only a month earlier that year. These dangerous men knew far too much and had too many suspicious movements to be disregarded so early in the investigation.
(4) Xavier’s DNA.
But first some technical clarifications: a person’s DNA is unique to that individual; a person’s DNA profile is, on the other hand, shared with potentially thousands of people; finally, a recovered mixed DNA profile is a multiple-persons’ profile constituted from an unknown number of individual DNA profiles. A DNA profile of Xavier Clarke, Ambrose’s brother, was a potential match to a mixed [multiple persons’] partial [incomplete] DNA profile recovered from the outside lower left leg of Mr Davis’ pants. The prosecution alleged this was proof of Xavier handling the dead body. The DNA expert called during the retrial said, to the contrary, that in his professional opinion this was the result of contamination or innocent transference. This means that it is possible Xavier’s DNA had been innocently transferred from something else he had been in contact with, or that there was a possibility (a reasonable doubt) that it was not his DNA.
(5) The Black Plastic.
Although his business partnership had dissolved, Ambrose Clarke was still working in the construction industry, sealing concrete. On Sunday 29th May 2011, he had obtained a piece of used black plastic from Mr Reed, a neighbouring colleague. Using it for a small sealing job, the next day Ambrose dropped off the plastic at the building site in Northbridge at 7 AM with a witness to confirm his movements. That evening, Mr Davis was found dead in the back of his own Pajero lying on and partially covered in a big piece of black plastic. The police were informed of Ambrose’s purchase the next day by the same person of interest who had made the death threats and had met with the Estonians the day before. Although the police matched the plastic found in the Pajero to another piece still at Mr Reed’s home, the police never investigated the possibility of Ambrose being framed.
(6) Peter Davis’ iPhone and ID.
The night Ambrose was arrested, the WA Police searched his house for 52 hours and did not find these items. After his release on bail in July 2011, the police raided his home for a second time and found Mr Davis’ missing personal property in the unsecured carport. The court was reminded of the Estonians’ knowledge of Ambrose’s address and how to access Ambrose’s carport and that it was possible they planted that evidence in the open carport. Police records showed that even that same week they were heavily investigating the Estonians, conducting searches at their residences a few days prior to finding the missing items. The items found had been wiped clean: no fingerprints belonging to anybody or Mr Davis (or even his DNA profile) were found on any of the items. Except on the loose diary page inside the envelope and on the outside of an envelope, a mixed DNA profile was recovered matching Ambrose’s profile and possibly two of his youngest children. The DNA expert witness proved these were the result of contamination by the Police officers conducting the search. The 2019 jury heard from a police witness and were shown the police video recording of the second search showing how the officer contaminated the evidence.