Shandee murder trial: Mum fears Crown blew its chance
EXCLUSIVE: AN INVESTIGATION is under way into how Crown Prosecutions handled the case against John Peros over the alleged murder of Shandee Blackburn.
This new revelation comes after Coroner David O'Connell published findings that he believed Mr Peros to be responsible for the 23 year old's death just after midnight on February 9, 2013.
Mr Peros was arrested and charged with murder in 2014. He was acquitted in 2017 after a two-week trial in Mackay Supreme Court.
Shandee's mother, Vicki Blackburn, sent formal complaints to the Office of the Department of Public Prosecutions and later to the Attorney-General criticising how the murder trial was managed.
For the first time Ms Blackburn has spoken publicly about the complaints, which she said were never addressed at any level.
The ODPP has confirmed the complaints were being investigated after being contacted by the Daily Mercury.
Ms Blackburn has alleged the family was misled and the case mishandled in what she labelled in one letter as a "miscarriage of justice from the very beginning".
"The situation we found ourselves in after Shandee's death is … beyond heartbreaking and traumatic," she said.
"It is also totally alien and to traverse through these days, months and years without knowing who to trust or where to go for guidance makes you even more vulnerable."
Ms Blackburn said as the case proceeded through the supreme court "it was becoming increasingly evident that many things we considered to be crucial were not being brought into trial".
"I first raised my concerns in a phone call to the Rockhampton office of the Department of Public Prosecutions. I was told the case was in capable and experienced hands," she said.
By the second day of what she labelled a "train wreck" of a trial, Ms Blackburn said: "I don't believe anyone had any illusions as to the outcome."
She also said there had been a number of mistruths raised during the trial that should have been easily dismissed.
"After it ended, we were left to wonder why. We still wonder why. Why did we have to go through that? Why did everyone have to go through that? What happened was certainly not 'a fair trial'," Ms Blackburn said.
"Yes, I am an aggrieved mother. Yes, I am angry. I am also a mother who does not want to see another mother go through what we have gone through."
Ms Blackburn posted her first letter of complaint to the ODPP in May 2017 following the trial.
She followed this up by emailing another letter of complaint in June 2019.
In December last year Ms Blackburn contacted the Attorney-General about the lack of response from the ODPP and also the handling of the case.
"If documents can be misplaced this easily it does have grave implications to the credibility of the department's functionality as a whole," Ms Blackburn wrote.
"I put my trust in the system that is supposed to conduct themselves to the fullest of the law. I was under no illusions nor unreal expectations. I understood the complexity and difficulties facing the prosecution.
"The obligation of the DPP is to effectively do everything in its power to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt. This was simply not done. And that is just not acceptable."
Ms Blackburn said as a result the Office of the Attorney-General directed the ODPP to look into the matter.
Correspondence from the ODPP on December 5 stated the "matter has been escalated to the Directorate". After that, Ms Blackburn said there was silence.
The Daily Mercury contacted the ODPP for comment in relation to the complaints.
An ODPP spokesman said the department had been "awaiting the outcome of the coronial hearing" and "the matters raised by Ms Blackburn are now under investigation".
"We have had so much community support since Shandee died. I doubt there are many who don't know what happened," Ms Blackburn said.
"What is the point of all that support when in the end the system itself fails."