Part 3: The Defence Case – The trial of Gerard Baden-Clay – Criminal Case Files
After the prosecution finished calling all of their evidence, the defence opened their case and took the highly unusual step of having Baden-Clay himself give evidence. A defendant does not have to give evidence as it is the Prosecution’s responsibility to prove guilt; not the defendant’s responsibility to prove their innocence.
In most trials, a defendant will not give evidence as it exposes them to being questioned heavily by a Prosecutor in front of a jury. Whether or not the defendant gives evidence is possibly the most important decision that a defendant needs to make in any criminal trial.
The Defence Case was as follows:
- The affair
Mr Baden-Clay’s lawyers said that he didn’t plan to leave his wife for Ms McHugh and did not kill her to be with the other woman. They said that, despite the couple having had considerable difficulties, especially when he confessed to the affairs, there had not ever been “raised voices.”
There was no evidence he had a violent temper and the couple’s children didn’t hear any arguing the night their mother vanished, despite the house being relatively small with low ceilings.
- The financial stress
The other motive alleged by the Prosecution was that Mr Baden-Clay was in financial stress and wished to secure Allison’s life insurance payout. Mr Baden-Clay’s lawyers said that Mr Baden-Clay was a well-known and admired community member, who had roles in several volunteer organisations.
They said that the suggestion that a person would use money as a motive for murder is ridiculous. They then showed a summary of Mr Baden-Clay’s personal and professional assets and liabilities and said it was simply not true that he was in financial stress.
- The scratches
Mr Baden-Clay’s lawyers highlighted that he never made any attempt to conceal the marks on his face. They pointed out that he was the one who called police to his home on the morning of Allison’s disappearance and his face was there for all to see. Mr Baden-Clay dismissed the two abrasions on his right cheek as shaving cuts.
But four forensic experts, who testified at the trial, said the abrasions were more consistent with fingernail scratches. Mr Baden-Clay’s lawyers said that Mr Baden-Clay explained the two shaving cuts in an open and candid fashion. They said that Mr Baden-Clay’s explanation remained consistent throughout the police investigation into his wife’s disappearance and the trial.
They also said that what was clear is that Mr Baden-Clay was not concerned about the marks and never gave an alternate explanation.
- The plants on Allison’s body
Allison had six plant types found on her head and clothes — all of which could be found in her Brookfield home’s backyard or the church next door. However, only two of them could be found at the site where her body was found. Mr Baden-Clay’s lawyers questioned why those leaves were not found in the Holden Captiva if that transported her body to the dumping site.
They also said police did not notice any obvious cleaning in the car, where a rivulet of blood was found. They then highlighted the complete absence of a crime scene at the Baden-Clay’s Brookfield home and said Mr Baden-Clay invited police to his Brookfield Roadhouse on the morning he reported his wife missing on April 20, 2012. They said Mr Baden-Clay gave police consent to search his house and his cars.
- The blood in the car
The Defence pointed out that there was no blood anywhere in the house, outside the house, on the patio, in the carport, when the prosecution case is the body is somehow either dragged or carried through the foliage and deposited in the car. They also said that the bloodstain in the car can’t be aged so that it wasn’t known when it could have been deposited there.
- Allison’s mental health issues
Mr Baden-Clay’s lawyers said that they did not want to be critical of Allison but said they needed to give the jury the “context” of her history of depression and anxiety. They reminded the jury that the defence’s expert psychiatric witness, Mark Schramm, said there was a “high chance” Allison was relapsing in her depressive illness in 2011.
The defence suggested that in the week she died, there were triggers or stressors for Allison’s depression and anxiety, particularly the talk of her husband’s affair with mistress Toni McHugh. They said Allison’s prescribed antidepressant Zoloft could have adverse side-effects, such as anxiety, confusion and suicidal ideations.
It can be seen above how the defence have managed to provide some explanation for this evidence, whether they are good explanations or not. One strong piece of evidence against Baden-Clay were the scratches on his face. They are highly suspicious in themselves, but even more so when considering the explanation that he gave for them, being that they were caused by a blunt razor.
Following Mr Baden-Clay’s conviction and sentence, his lawyers immediately lodged an appeal. That appeal is not likely to be heard before the end of the year.
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