Colin Winchester

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Colin Winchester

Colin Stanley Winchester

(1933-10-18)18 October 1933
Died10 January 1989(1989-01-10) (aged 55)
Cause of deathAssassination; shot twice in head with a Ruger 10/22 .22-calibre semi-automatic rifle
OccupationAssistant Commissioner of ACT Police
EmployerAustralian Federal Police
Spouse(s)Gwen Winchester (d. 2015)[1]

Colin Stanley Winchester APM (18 October 1933 – 10 January 1989[2]) was an assistant commissioner in the Australian Federal Police (AFP). Winchester commanded ACT Police, the community policing component of the AFP responsible for the Australian Capital Territory. In 1989 he was assassinated by an unknown perpetrator.


Winchester, the son of a baker, worked as a miner near Captains Flat before joining the Australian Capital Territory Police Force in 1962,[3] aged 29 years. The ACT Police and Commonwealth Police were merged in 1979 to form the Australian Federal Police (AFP).[2]


On 10 January 1989, at about 9:15 pm, Winchester was shot twice in the head with a Ruger 10/22 .22-calibre semi-automatic rifle fitted with a Suppressor and killed as he parked his car in the driveway of his neighbour’s premises in Deakin, Canberra. Winchester is Australia's most senior police officer to have been murdered.[2][4][5] At the time of Winchester's murder, it was alleged that Winchester was corrupt; at any earlier period when it was said that he had handled bribes relating to a Canberra illegal casino. However, an audit of Winchester's financial affairs after his murder revealed nothing untoward. There were also allegations of 'Ndrangheta or Mafia involvement in his murder.[2][4][6] The story of Winchester's murder was dramatised in Police Crop: The Winchester Conspiracy.

Murder suspects[edit]

David Eastman[edit]

Prior to Winchester's murder, David Harold Eastman, a 44-year-old former Treasury Department economist, had made threats against Winchester's life.[4]

In 1995 Eastman was tried and convicted of the murder of Winchester and was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.[4][7] During the 85-day trial, Eastman repeatedly sacked his legal team and eventually chose to represent himself. Eastman also abused the judge during his trial, and during later legal proceedings and appeals.[8] Subsequent to his conviction, Eastman continuously appealed against his conviction, attempting to win a retrial on the basis that he was mentally unfit during his original trial.[9] On 27 May 2009, Eastman was transferred from the Goulburn Correctional Centre in New South Wales to the ACT's Alexander Maconochie Centre to see out his sentence.[4][10]

A new inquiry relating to his conviction was announced in August 2012.[11][4] In 2014, the inquiry, headed by Justice Brian Ross Martin, found there had been "a substantial miscarriage of justice", Eastman "did not receive a fair trial", the forensic evidence on which the conviction was based was "deeply flawed" and recommended the conviction be quashed. However Martin said he was "fairly certain" Eastman was guilty but "a nagging doubt remains".[12][13][14]

In 2016 it was reported that the ACT Government sought a retrial of Eastman over the murder of Winchester;[15][16] and that the legal precedings had cost the ACT Government approximately A$30 million.[17] Meanwhile, Eastman lodged a civil claim against the ACT Government seeking compensation for wrongful imprisonment;[18] and on 14 October 2019 Eastman was awarded A$7.02 million in compensation.[19][20]

On 22 November 2018, Eastman was found not guilty of Winchester's murder after a lengthy re-trial.[21]

Other suspects[edit]

In media reports following the quashing of Eastman's wrongful conviction and the subsequent retrial, it was reported that Winchester's death may be linked to connections associated with the 'Ndrangheta.[22][23][24]


The Winchester Police Centre in Belconnen in 2009.

Following his murder the Winchester Police Centre, located in Benjamin Way, Belconnen, was established in 1994 as the headquarters for ACT Police.[25] The Winchester Police Centre houses ACT Police Executive, administrative and support sections and elements of the Territory Investigations Group (TIG).[1]


  1. ^ a b "Gwen Winchester, widow of slain AFP chief Colin Winchester, dies". ABC News. Australia. 25 February 2015. Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d "Colin Stanley WINCHESTER APM". Australian Police. 2014. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  3. ^ "Colin Winchester: a friend remembers" (PDF). Platypus Magazine (25). March 1989. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Guilliatt, Richard (25 February 2013). "Terry O'Donnell is still on the Colin Winchester murder case". The Australian. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  5. ^ "The case against David Harold Eastman". The Canberra Times. 4 November 1995. Archived from the original on 5 December 2010. Retrieved 12 May 2018 – via Jarrett, Janet (October 1999). "Murder of Assistant Commissioner Winchester" Platypus, Australian Federal Police. (Reprint: Platypus No. 49, December 1995).
  6. ^ Thistleton, John (28 September 2014). "John Hatton: the case that almost broke me". South Coast Register. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  7. ^ Solly, Ross (28 May 2003). "David Eastman wins right to appeal". PM. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 6 May 2009.
  8. ^ "David Eastman appeal upheld". The Sydney Morning Herald. Australian Associated Press. 28 May 2003. Retrieved 6 May 2009.
  9. ^ Campbell, Roderick (10 October 2004). "Winchester murder trial, fair or not?". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 6 May 2009.[dead link]
  10. ^ Kent, Paul (31 May 2014). "Killer of police commissioner finally extradited to the ACT". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 28 May 2009.
  11. ^ Mosley, Lisa (10 August 2012). "Inquiry ordered into 1989 Winchester murder". Lateline. Australia: ABC TV. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
  12. ^ "Eastman inquiry recommends David Eastman's conviction be quashed, finds miscarriage of justice". 30 May 2014. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
  13. ^ "David Eastman's murder conviction should be quashed: inquiry". Guardian Australia. Australian Associated Press. 30 May 2014. Retrieved 31 May 2014.
  14. ^ "Inquiry into the Conviction of David Harold Eastman for the Murder of Colin Stanley Winchester" (PDF). REPORT OF THE BOARD OF INQUIRY. Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory. Retrieved 31 May 2014.
  15. ^ "David Eastman must be retried for Colin Winchester murder, court rules". Guardian Australia. Australian Associated Press. 14 April 2016. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  16. ^ Knaus, Christopher (14 April 2016). "David Eastman loses bid to prevent retrial for alleged murder of Colin Winchester". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  17. ^ Gorrey, Sarah (24 May 2017). "David Eastman's second trial over Colin Winchester murder pushed back months". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  18. ^ Byrne, Elizabeth (19 February 2016). "David Eastman must be retried for Colin Winchester murder, court rules". The Canberra Times. Australia. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  19. ^ Byrne, Elizabeth (14 October 2019). "David Eastman awarded more than $7 million for wrongful murder conviction, almost 20 years in jail". ABC News. Australia. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  20. ^ Back, Alexandra (14 October 2019). "Eastman awarded $7 million for wrongful imprisonment". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  21. ^ Byrne, Elizabeth (22 November 2018). "David Eastman found not guilty of murdering senior AFP officer nearly three decades ago". ABC News. Australia.
  22. ^ Brewer, Peter (29 January 2019). "If David Eastman didn't murder Colin Winchester, then who did?". Canberra Times. Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  23. ^ Byrne, Elizabeth; Hayne, Jordan (23 November 2018). "David Eastman and Colin Winchester: Two 'cracks' in the night echoed across 30 years". ABC News. Australia. Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  24. ^ Knaus, Christopher (23 November 2018). "Colin Winchester's murder and how the case against David Eastman collapsed". Guardian Australia. Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  25. ^ "Celebrating 100 years of policing in the ACT" (PDF). Australian Federal Police. 2013. pp. 7, 10. Retrieved 9 May 2018.

External links[edit]

Police appointments
Preceded by
Val McConaghy
Chief Police Officer of ACT Policing
Succeeded by
Brian Bates