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Landmark Cases

Dean Waters Trial

In 1997, the public’s national attention focused on the firm as a result of a successful verdict given in the highly publicized “Dean Waters Case”. The accused, Dean Waters, was one of three brothers who were all famous boxers in their own right and who were trained by their father, Ces Waters. Together they formed a “family dynasty in boxing”.

Dean Waters was originally charged with murder in 1988 but not committed for trial. He later came forward entirely of his own volition in 1996 to confess his guilt. Notwithstanding his confession, a psychiatric defense was run at trial in the Supreme Court and he was acquitted and walked out a free man!

This case attracted much media interest, including segments on 60 Minutes and A Current Affair.

If you have been accused of a crime, get in touch with our criminal law specialists who fight for the underdog. Manny Conditsis has a better than 90% success rate in jury trials.

Employer Charged with Indecent Assault

Trial Advocate – Manny Conditsis

Solicitor – Natasha Konic

Employer Charged with Indecently Assaulting One of His Female Staff

An employer was charged with indecently assaulting one of his female staff. At the trial, there were many problems with the credibility of the female staff member. After she gave her evidence and before she was even cross examined, Manny Conditsis requested that the DPP withdraw the charges against the employer. The DPP agreed and the charge was dismissed.

Council Against Land Owner

Mr Rodney Dawson acted to defend a prosecution brought by the Council against a land owner for demolishing a building without consent. If convicted, the land owner could have faced substantial fines. The defence to the prosecution was that the act of demolishing a building was not development requiring consent, but rather it was prohibited development and the defendant had been wrongly charged. The Court upheld the defence and dismissed the charges and ordered costs to be paid by the Council. Leave to appeal was refused.

Council Development Refusal Overturned

Rodney Dawson

Mr Dawson appeared for a land owner of rural land who wished to build a dwelling house upon that land. The land was heavily treed and subject to a Development Control Plan which placed restrictions on where a house could be built. The Council refused development consent alleging, amongst other things, that the development could not proceed in the absence of a species impact statement because of the presence or potential presence of the yellow bellied glider. The land owner appealed to the Court and was able to demonstrate through the expert evidence gathered for the appeal that not only was a species impact statement unnecessary, but also the Development Control Plan did not prevent the house being built where the land owner wanted it and the appeal was upheld.

Objectors Against Development

Rodney Dawson

Mr Dawson has appeared for a number of objectors against substantial residential development in coastal areas on the Central Coast. In the main; these cases involve the loss of views by residents and a loss of amenity through overshadowing, noise and other issues related to high density living. A number of challenges were brought in the Court alleging that development consent for these high density residential developments were void by reason of failures in the process in the granting of consent. A successful outcome was achieved for the objectors by negotiating a form of development which was generally lower in height and preserved views and amenity.

Man Charged with Murder and Maliciously Wounding

Trial Advocate – Manny Conditsis

Man Charged with Murder and Maliciously Wound after wild brawl

Numerous Co-Accused faced a 5 month trial in the Supreme Court and whilst they were acquitted of murder they were all found guilty of manslaughter and are serving lengthy sentences of imprisonment.

Our client was charged with the murder of one alleged victim and maliciously wounding another. Manny Conditsis was able to get our client bail and later, tried to persuade the DPP that the Crown case was weak and that it should withdraw both charges. The DPP wouldn’t budge as DNA evidence of our client was found at the scene of the crime.

Manny successfully challenged the importance of the DNA evidence and we called Professor Brian McDonald, a renowned DNA expert to give evidence at the committal Hearing. Manny strongly cross examined the DNA expert witness relied upon by the Crown as well as the crime scene investigative police. The Magistrate agreed that the Crown case against our client was weak and dismissed both charges against our client. Manny pressed for an order for costs and a substantial amount was awarded in favour of our client!

Dazed Stranger Found in House with Drugs

Trial Advocate – Manny Conditsis

Dazed Stranger Found in House, Allegedly in Possession of Ecstasy Pills for Supply

A bizarre case where our client was found dazed and confused in a strangers house, having a shower in the early hours of the morning. Not surprisingly our client asked to leave the premises and he did so. The occupants then found the pills in a plastic resealable bag in the bathroom and called the police.

Accredited specialists, Manny Conditsis worked on this case and had to backtrack our client’s movements to the prior evening. A significant number of the jury appeared to accept Manny Conditsis’ submissions to them that our client’s beer at a hotel the night before had been spiked.

It was suggested to the jury that there were two alternative scenarios indicating our client’s innocence. The first was that the drugs likely belonged to the teenage occupant of the house. Alternatively, if the jury believed our client had brought the drugs into the house, that they must have been put into his pocket by people he had been with, as they fled the scene of a car accident as police had been called.

The trial resulted in a hung jury and later, the DPP withdrew the charge of Supply.

Dangerous Driving Causing Death

Trial Advocate – Manny Conditsis

Solicitor – Natasha Konic

A young man was charged with dangerous driving causing the death of a motorcyclist, when the collision occurred with his car being on the wrong side of the road. If he had been convicted he would have gone to gaol for some years. Manny Conditsis strongly cross examined the prosecution’s expert witness (in the absence of the jury), after which he asked the trial judge not to allow that evidence to be heard by the jury. The trial judge agreed. Manny Conditsis then sought and obtained a direction from the trial judge to the jury, to acquit the young man. The young man was acquitted.

Family Law Appeal Won

Manny Conditsis

The firm took over a Family Law case after the man had appeared for himself at a hearing in front of a Judge of the Family Court, when the Judge made unfavourable orders against the man. An appeal was lodged on behalf of the man to the Full Court of the Family Court (3 Judges heard the appeal). Manny Conditsis argued that the trial Judge had denied the man natural justice and procedural fairness and that the orders made by the trial Judge should be overturned. The man was successful in the appeal.

Conspiracy to Import Methamphetamine

Trial Advocate – Manny Conditsis

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) charged 5 co-accused with conspiring to import 40kg of the powder into Australia by ship from Europe. Manny Conditsis represented one of the accused, who worked on the wharves at Port Botany. Each of the other co-accused were represented by separate trial lawyers.

The AFP poured endless resources into trying to establish the guilt of all those charged. The trial was conducted over 3 long months in a special court of the District Court in Sydney. The atmosphere in the courtroom was most intense and the charges and the case presented by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions made the trial particularly complicated.

The trial involved Serbian translators countless expert witnesses, in the fields of DNA, mobile phone technology, forensic police and so on. During the trial one of the co-accused pleaded guilty. That had a significant impact on the course of the trial and made the trial even more tense.

Part of our client’s case was that he was a simple man with an intellectual disability and that he didn’t have any knowledge of the import, notwithstanding that he was caught carrying one of the bags (20kg) out of Port Botany. Our client’s defence was that he was asked by his boss of many years to carry a bag out to the car park and that is what he did, and that he didn’t know that the bag contained drugs.

Of the remaining 4 co-accused, 3 the jury found guilty. In relation to our client, the jury was undecided and accordingly, the jury was ‘hung’. After persistently submitting to the Commonwealth DPP that the charge against our client should be withdrawn, it agreed. All the other co-accused have been served to lengthy terms of imprisonment. Our client is a free man!

Gosford Criminal Advocate Receives Top Pro Bono Award

President of the Law Society of NSW, Justin Dowd, has congratulated Gosford criminal advocate Manny Conditsis, recipient of the Law Society President’s Award announced as part of the 2012 Justice Awards last night. The Law Society President’s Award is presented to an individual solicitor for pro bono work undertaken through the Law Society Pro Bono Scheme, which was set up in 1992.

President of the Law Society of NSW, Justin Dowd presented the award to Mr Conditsis at the 2012 Justice Awards dinner at NSW Parliament House last night. “Access to justice is a basic right that is something that no everyone in our community is afforded, particularly those who are marginalised or disadvantaged and without resources” Mr Dowd said.

“With more than 27 years’ experience in criminal law, Manny is widely recognised as one of the most experienced trial advocates in NSW.

“Through his pro bono work, Manny has provided outstanding support to the Gosford community over many years particularly in the areas of criminal law and child care and protection,” he said.

The Law Society Pro Bono Scheme facilities access to justice for disadvantaged people by accepting and processing applications which are referred on to solicitors willing to take on pro bono cases. The Justice Awards honour the work of individuals and organisations that have demonstrated extraordinary commitment and have a significant impact on improving access to justice, particularly for socially and economically disadvantaged people.

Media Contact: Jacob O’Shaughnessy 02 9926 0288 or 0413 440 699

Battered Spouse Murder Defence

Trial Advocate – Manny Conditsis

A battered spouse was charged with the stabbing murder of her husband, although she had no recollection of and did not believe that she committed the offence. After a six week trial in the Supreme Court, the jury acquitted our client, likely on the basis of self defense.

This case attracted much media interest, including segments on 60 Minutes and A Current Affair.

Possession and Intended Manufacture of Drugs

Possession of Powder and Intended Manufacture of Methylamphetamine

A very difficult 2 month trial won against all odds!

A significant quantity of pseudoephedrine powder and precursors such as Hypophosphorous Acid was allegedly found on our client’s premises by police. Manny Conditsis and Natasha Konic spent many hours pouring over the police video of the execution of the search warrant and we were able to establish several breaches of Best Practice in relation to the Standard Operating Procedures. The trial resulted in a ‘hung jury’ and we were able to persuade the DPP to drop the trial charges against our client.

It appears that some members of the jury accepted that the Hypophosphorous Acid had been ’planted’ by the police. The various breaches during the search assisted in that result. It would seem that most of the jury also accepted that the pseudoephedrine powder was intended for our client’s Greyhound dog.

Indecent Assault and Rape

An elderly man was charged with alleged sexual offences.

We were able to satisfy the jury that the complainant had ulterior motives in making the complaints and Manny Conditsis and Natasha Konic spent many hours pouring over loads of documents that we had subpoenaed. The documents established that the complainant had told a series of lies about various matters and that it was virtually impossible for the offences to have occurred as alleged by her.

After less than a day of deliberations the jury accepted the submissions of Manny Conditsis and acquitted our client.

Man Charged with the Rape of a Woman

Trial Advocate – Manny Conditsis

Solicitor – Natasha Konic

A man was charged with the rape of a woman. The man said that the sex was consensual. After the cross examination of the woman, and the man, Manny Conditsis asked the judge to invite the jury to acquit our client without the jury hearing all the evidence. The jury then acquitted the man.

Man Charged with Malicious Wounding

Trial Advocate – Manny Conditsis

Solicitor – Natasha Konic

A man was charged with the malicious wounding of another man causing him grievous bodily harm. If the man had been convicted he would have gone to jail for a long time. The man was found on the victim’s property, in the early hours of the morning with a balaclava and dark clothes in suspicious circumstances. At the first trial there was a “hung jury”. At the second trial the man was acquitted.

When should provocation be accepted as legitimate self-defence in a murder trial?

ON July 3, 2001, Scott Tindall sat in a chair in an Adamstown flat for 10 or 15 minutes, smoked a cigarette, decided “I just couldn’t take any more” and raised a hammer above his older brother Donald’s head, striking his skull up to 11 times.
It was five months after Donald was acquitted of murdering their father Alex in an Adamstown house fire in 2000, a murder trial in which Scott – the youngest of Alex Tindall’s nine children – was a key witness against Donald.
It had been five months of hell, Supreme Court Justice Peter Hidden concluded when sentencing Scott Tindall in this “truly exceptional case”.
“[Scott] had been hounded by [Donald] for no known reason other than that he had given evidence for the prosecution at a trial arising out of a violent death of their own father,” Justice Hidden found.”The circumstances elicit considerable sympathy for [Scott] and provide him with a powerful claim for leniency.”
Scott Tindall, 35, told the court he was provoked into killing his brother.
Donald, the sixth of the Tindall siblings, had threatened to kill Scott many times, had threatened Scott’s partner and her young child, and had “terrorised” other family members.
On July 2, 2001, Donald Tindall arrived unexpectedly at Scott’s partner’s flat demanding money. He had been drinking, made threats, and repeatedly called Scott a “f – – – ing idiot” and a “f – – – ing dog” despite the presence of a child and Scott’s appeals for the abuse to end.
Scott was “petrified”.

As he told a police officer who had charged Donald for his father Alex’s murder only a year earlier: “You know what he was like. I just couldn’t take any more.”
Justice Hidden concluded that “the provocation under which [Scott] was acting at the time of the killing was grave indeed”.
He sentenced Scott to a minimum 2½ years jail.
This week Scott’s brother Paul who, along with another brother Allan, were the first people contacted by Scott after the killing, said he didn’t think Scott should have served any jail time, given the circumstances leading to Donald’s death.
“Scott didn’t deserve to go through what he went through,” said Paul Tindall, of Nelson Bay. “I don’t reckon he should have got anything, but that’s the system.”
While Scott, released from jail in 2004 and still living in the Hunter, was “going well”, the events of those tragic two years had devastated and split the family.
“There are some family members who won’t accept what Scott did. He’s suffered. I’ve suffered. My family’s suffered. Everyone’s suffered.”
Paul Tindall was aware the NSW Parliament had launched an inquiry into the partial defence of provocation after widespread criticism following cases in which men successfully argued they were provoked into killing their estranged wives, or their wives’ new partners or lovers.
But he believes the provocation defence produced the right outcome in his brother’s case.
“There was no doubt. It was either Scott done what he done, or we were going to find him dead.”ON June 14 the NSW Legislative Council voted to hold the Defences and partial defences to homicide inquiry after public outcry over a manslaughter verdict in a Sydney case.
In early June a jury accepted Chamanjot Singh’s claim that he was provoked into slitting his wife Manpreet Kaur’s throat with a box cutter and stabbing her in what a judge described as a “ferocious attack”.
The stabbing occurred after Kaur told Singh she loved another man.
Singh was sentenced to six years jail.
There was further outrage early this month when a jury found Joachim Won not guilty of murder on the grounds of provocation, but guilty of manslaughter, after stabbing his friend Hyung Mo Lee to death after finding Lee in bed with Won’s wife.
Greens Upper House MP and lawyer David Shoebridge supported an inquiry into the defences of self defence and provocation, telling Parliament that both “have been used by people who were clearly guilty”.
He was concerned about its use where women had been killed after years of abuse by violent partners, and by men using the “gay panic” defence after non-violent approaches from homosexual men.

The inquiry committee chairman, Fred Nile, said it would look at “the use of provocation to reduce a charge of murder to the lesser charge of manslaughter, and in particular, its use in matters where there is a history of domestic violence”.
It will accept submissions until August 10.
A briefing paper on the Legislative Council’s website notes that the defence of provocation in murder cases rose in the 1600s and 1700s, when social norms dictated that “breaches of honour” justified an angry retaliatory response.
In those times it was considered “necessary for a man to ‘cancel out’ the affront by retaliating in some way”, and failure to do so “would be considered cowardly”, a 2004 Victorian Law Reform Commission into defences to murder noted.
By 1883 NSW broadened the use of provocation to forms of conduct beyond a physical assault or committing adultery with a man’s wife, to include “grossly insulting language or gestures”.
In 1982 the provocation defence in NSW was expanded after reports found women who killed their partners after prolonged domestic violence were disadvantaged because the defence required an element of “suddenness” in responding to provocation.
In 2003 Tasmania abolished provocation as a defence, followed by Victoria in 2005 and Western Australia in 2008.
Remaining states and territories retain some form of provocation defence.
Victoria revoked provocation after community outrage following two cases. In October 1996 a jury found Heather Osland guilty of murdering her husband after rejecting that she was acting in self defence and had been provoked by years of domestic violence. She was sentenced to 14 years jail. A jury found her son David, who struck the fatal blow, not guilty of murder and he was released.
In 2004 a jury found James Ramage not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter, after accepting he killed his wife Julie when she said she would leave him. He was sentenced to eight years jail.

The cases led to sustained criticism that the defence of provocation was gender-biased and used by men to escape murder convictions.
The Victorian Law Reform Commission in 2004 recommended the removal of provocation, saying that “in the 21st century, the Victorian community has a right to expect people will control their behaviour, even when angry or emotionally upset – particularly when the consequences are as serious as homicide”.
Although the Victorian government abolished provocation as a defence in 2005, and replaced it with the charge of defensive homicide, it announced in June that it would be amending the law after research last year found the new law “has operated in ways seemingly different to those envisioned by the government”.
While defensive homicide had been established primarily for people who kill in response to prolonged family violence, researchers found it had overwhelmingly been used by male offenders involved in “one-off, violent confrontations between two males of approximately equal strength”.
A Catholic priest is petitioning the Queensland government to abolish provocation as a defence after two men were found not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter, for punching and kicking a gay man to death in the grounds of a Catholic church.
The two men said they had been provoked into killing the gay man because he made an unwanted sexual advance.

Manny Conditsis is a senior trial advocate and accredited criminal law specialist who is not surprised when some court outcomes are controversial, or when governments like Victoria find changing laws can produce unintended consequences.
“When you go tweaking laws, you’re going to have all sorts of other problems,” he said.
The significance of provocation was that manslaughter convictions can produce a wide range of sentencing outcomes, from no jail time to 25 years jail, when compared with murder convictions which carry significant jail sentences.
But Conditsis, who successfully defended former Australian boxing champion Dean Waters after he was charged with murdering Allen Hall in 1988, believes the community needs to consider another question before it decides whether to abolish the provocation defence.
Waters argued diminished responsibility after years of control by his boxing trainer father Cec Waters.
“In today’s society, can we accept that a person can be so provoked, firstly, to lose control, and secondly, to take some sort of extreme physical action to cause someone’s

“In today’s society, can we accept that a person can be so provoked, firstly, to lose control, and secondly, to take some sort of extreme physical action to cause someone’s death?” Senior trial advocate Manny Conditsis

death?” Conditsis said. “As a society, isn’t that what we’re asking ourselves, or do we say there are no circumstances?”
Conditsis said the case of Scott Tindall showed that provocation could produce an outcome that the community would largely accept. He agreed that controversies often followed the application of laws in areas where the community had mixed responses to issues. Provocation’s use in domestic violence and homosexual cases produced mixed jury outcomes because of widely differing community views in both areas.

In May 2006 the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal considered an appeal by Noelene Anderson, whose case that she had been provoked into killing her husband Bob Grosse at Rocky Point on the Central Coast was rejected by a Newcastle Supreme Court jury which found her guilty of murder.
Their relationship was described as turbulent. Grosse was convicted of assaulting Anderson, and during one of their physical altercations Anderson bit Grosse’s ear.
A jury accepted the Crown case that Anderson murdered Grosse by strangling him with a piece of cord or twine after picking him up from work when he complained of being unwell. Anderson buried him underneath their house and placed a concrete slab over his makeshift grave.
The jury was told Grosse was murdered several days before Anderson met up with a South Australian man she had planned to live with.
The Court of Criminal Appeal noted a first murder trial failed because the jury was given incorrect directions on provocation. It rejected Anderson’s appeal against a second murder conviction, noting there was significant evidence Anderson was not provoked by Grosse on the day he died.
The jury did not accept her evidence because she concealed Grosse’s body for several years and told the police she did not know where he was, the court found.
Although there was evidence of assault and violence in the relationship, and sexual behaviour Anderson found “unpleasant or distasteful”, the jury was satisfied Grosse had died in the manner put forward by the Crown and Anderson was not provoked into killing him, the appeal court found.

WHEN Scott Tindall was asked if he had intended to kill his brother Donald on July 3, 2001, he answered: “I’m not going to tell you a lie.”
“I got up and hit Donny on the head with the hammer. I think I hit him, I think I hit him three or four times on the head with the, with the hammer,” he told police.
“At that point I knew what I’d done. Just for, I just, I just couldn’t take any more. The man had just put, put meself, my fiancée and the rest of my family through, to hell and back, and there was, there was nothing else.”
Paul Tindall won’t be making a submission to the parliamentary inquiry.
After two deaths and his brother’s jailing, and with his family split apart, the wounds are too raw, and his view is too subjective.
“There were a lot of things building up to it [Donald’s death], and that much I know,” he said.

What the Law says about Provocation

SECTION 23 of the NSW Crimes Act provides for the partial defence of provocation to murder which, if established, can reduce murder to manslaughter.
Provocation is established where a killing is the result of a loss of self control by a person that was induced by “any conduct of the deceased toward or affecting” the killer.
The deceased’s conduct must be enough that an “ordinary person” would also have lost self control and have formed intent to kill or inflict grievous bodily harm.
Between 1990 and 2004 in NSW there were 28 successful provocation cases involving “violent physical confrontations”, 11 after homosexual advances, 11 after “intimate relationship” confrontations, 13 involving domestic violence, 8 involving family violence, 3 after non-family sexual assault and one successful provocation case after a person was provoked by words alone.

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