Maryborough man Jesse Willis will continue to spend the next 19 years behind bars for shooting dead Ricky Lee Gangly, after his appeal bid was knocked back.
Willis, 31, who was sentenced to a 24-year jail term with a non-parole period of 20 years for murdering and disposing of the Deer Park man’s body in a flooded Avoca mine in 2013, sought leave to appeal against his conviction in the Court of Appeal.
Deciding to reserve their decision after the case first appeared at a sitting in Ballarat in April, the court on Thursday refused Willis’ appeal.
Willis appealed against a Supreme Court judgement that rejected claims he was not read his right to silence during an interview with Homocide Squad Detective Sergeant Trewavas on 31 October, 2013.
Willis’ defence argued the decision to allow the interview to be tendered as evidence during the trial made a difference in the jury finding Willis guilty of murder in August of last year.
The lawyers questioned the reliability of evidence given by the arresting officer, who claimed while he forgot to read the full rights during the recorded interview, he did at the time of arrest.
But in a 2-1 majority, Court of Appeal justices Mark Weinberg and David Beach, rejected claims a miscarriage of justice had occurred.
“We note for the sake of completeness that even without this evidence this was a strong Crown case,” their judgement statement read.
Disagreeing with the decision, Justice Phillip Priest said he believed the interview should have been excluded by the trial judge and a trial reordered on the grounds that a caution must be given during an interview, no matter the familiarity a suspect might have with the process.
Mr Gangly’s body was found eight months after Willis and his friend Stuart Hutchison - who is currently serving a 21-month jail term - drove his vehicle, with his body still inside, into the Avoca Lead Dredge.
Willis, who was a drug addict seeking to buy drugs from the Mr Gangly, shot him in the back of the head after a dispute about firearms.
Willis will be eligible for parole in 2035.