David Eastman

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David Harold Eastman
Born (1945-09-29) 29 September 1945 (age 71)[1]
Occupation Public servant
Criminal penalty Life imprisonment without parole
Criminal status Bail[2]
Conviction(s) Murder

David Harold Eastman (born 29 September 1945) is a former public servant from Canberra, Australia. In 1995 he was convicted of the murder of Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Colin Winchester and was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole but in 2014 a judicial inquiry recommended the sentence should be quashed and he should be pardoned. On 22 August of the same year, the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory quashed the conviction, and ordered a retrial.

Early and family life[edit]

Eastman's father, Allan Eastman who died in 1987,[3] worked at the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and had several overseas postings in ambassadorial roles. So, as a child, Eastman frequently moved house. He has one older sister and two younger twin sisters. Eastman was very successful at Canberra Grammar School where he was dux, and he went to Sydney University at the age of 16. When he was 21 he started seeing a psychiatrist because he was “feeling lonely and miserable and not getting on with people”.[4]


Eastman was a Treasury official until 1977 when he retired on health grounds. He later applied for a post at the Australian Bureau of Statistics but was rejected with one reason being given that he had written letters to the press regarding economic and business matters which might be seen to prejudice the Bureau's reputation. Although the Ombudsman was not allowed to investigate internal public service matters, he agreed to investigate a case brought by Eastman because he was a member of the public at the time.[5] Subsequently the Ombudsman concluded there had not been discrimination against Eastman.[6]

Aggressive behaviour[edit]

In 1986, Eastman's mother requested a restraining order on Eastman after he threatened her life while trying to break down her front door.[4]

A report written for Eastman's murder trial stated that he previously had "six charges of threatening to kill, 128 charges of making harassing or menacing phone calls, 11 charges of assault and one of assault occasioning actual bodily harm". Also “He has been charged with assaulting police on three occasions.”[4]

Conviction for murder and subsequent appeals and inquiries[edit]

Eastman was found guilty of shooting Colin Winchester twice in the head at point blank range in the driveway of Winchester's home in Deakin, Australian Capital Territory on 10 January 1989.[7] He was tried in 1995. 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][9] Subsequent to his conviction, Eastman repeatedly appealed his conviction, attempting to win a retrial on the basis that he was mentally unfit during his original trial.[10] On 27 May 2009, Eastman was transferred from a New South Wales prison to the newly opened Alexander Maconochie Centre in the ACT to see out his sentence. During his period in New South Wales prisons he lodged a large number of complaints alleging ill-treatment by guards and was frequently moved between jails.[11]

A new inquiry relating to his conviction was announced in August 2012.[12] 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. Because a retrial would be neither feasible nor fair, Eastman should be pardoned. However Martin said he was "fairly certain" Eastman was guilty but "a nagging doubt remains".[13][14][15] Publication of the report followed a failed attempt by the Australian Federal Police to have at least parts of it withheld.[16]

On 22 August 2014 the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory quashed the conviction and ordered a retrial.


  1. ^ http://courts.act.gov.au/resources/attachments/Eastman10Nov95.pdf
  2. ^ http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-22/david-eastmans-murder-conviction-quashed/5688270
  3. ^ "Family notices: Deaths". The Canberra Times. ACT. 3 November 1987. p. 18. 
  4. ^ a b c Moor, Keith (31 May 2014). "How a strange, cruel life led to jail for David Eastman". Herald Sun. Retrieved 1 June 2014. 
  5. ^ Juddery, Bruce (21 June 1978). "P.S. case studied. Case could set precedents.". Canberra Times. Retrieved 1 June 2014. 
  6. ^ Juddery, Bruce (3 February 1979). "Appeal by retired public servant. No discrimination in refusal: Ombudsman". Canberra Times. Retrieved 1 June 2014. 
  7. ^ Solly, Ross (28 May 2003). "David Eastman wins right to appeal". ABC PM. Retrieved 6 May 2009. 
  8. ^ AAP (28 May 2003). "David Eastman appeal upheld". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 6 May 2009. 
  9. ^ "Eastman judge's warning.". The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995). ACT: National Library of Australia. 11 November 1995. p. 1. Retrieved 1 June 2014. 
  10. ^ Campbell, Roderick (6 January 2017). "Winchester murder trial, fair or not?". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 18 February 2017. 
  11. ^ Kent, Paul (31 May 2014). "Killer of police commissioner finally extradited to the ACT". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 28 May 2009. 
  12. ^ Mosley, Lisa (10 August 2012). "Inquiry ordered into 1989 Winchester murder". Lateline. Retrieved 17 October 2015. 
  13. ^ "Eastman inquiry recommends David Eastman's conviction be quashed, finds miscarriage of justice". 30 May 2014. Retrieved 30 May 2014. 
  14. ^ Australian Associated Press (30 May 2014). "David Eastman's murder conviction should be quashed: inquiry". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 May 2014. 
  15. ^ "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. 
  16. ^ Inman, Michael (30 May 2014). "David Eastman inquiry: police in court bid over report's publication". Canberra Times. Retrieved 1 June 2014. 

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