You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

High Court upholds jury bungle

AAP logoAAP 31/08/2016 Tim Dornin

The High Court has upheld manslaughter convictions against four men in Adelaide, despite a bungle when the verdicts were delivered.

The men were tried for the murder of 19-year-old Christopher Hatzis who was stabbed during a brawl outside an Adelaide nightclub in 2012.

They were found not guilty of murder and guilty of manslaughter with the sentencing judge describing the incident as a "futile and tragic altercation".

But the verdicts were thrown into doubt soon after when it emerged the jury foreperson had incorrectly indicated that 10 or more of the 12 jurors had found the defendants not guilty of murder - the number required for a majority decision.

After the bungle was revealed prosecutors appealed the verdicts and the Full Court of the South Australian Supreme Court subsequently set them aside and ordered a new trial.

But on Wednesday the High Court ruled the SA full court did not have the power to "look behind the verdicts" delivered by the jury and allowed an appeal by the four men.

It also ruled that the bungle by the jury foreperson did not amount to an abuse of process in a decision that blocks any retrial on the murder charges.

Chief Justice Robert French and justices Susan Kiefel and Virginia Bell found the original verdicts were delivered in open court in sight and hearing of the other jurors who could have dissented.

"There is no doubt that while still assembled the jury could have corrected the verdicts," the judges said.

"It may be that some or all of them thought that because they could not reach unanimity on guilt, a verdict of not guilty of murder must follow.

"Whether that is right or not, it is not suggested that any of them disagreed with the verdicts that were delivered with respect to manslaughter."

The High Court has also ruled that appeals by two of the men against their manslaughter convictions be returned to the SA full court for further consideration.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon