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Australian Story -

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The Night Before Christmas - Transcript

PROGRAM TRANSCRIPT: Monday, 29 March , 2010

CAROLINE JONES, PRESENTER: Hello, I'm Caroline Jones. Tonight's program is about a haunting murder
and a court saga that's now almost without precedent in Australian legal history. It's the case of
Graham Stafford; jailed for life nearly 20 years ago for the murder of his girlfriend's younger
sister. Two years ago, we featured the story of a former police detective, a criminologist, and the
original jury foreman who'd teamed up to try to prove Stafford's innocence. For the past two
decades Graham Stafford has been denied a voice; first by imprisonment and then by the conditions
of his parole. Tonight, Graham Stafford is speaking out for the first time.

CAITLIN SHEA, PRODUCER: Did you kill Leanne Holland?

GRAHAM STAFFORD: No, no. I had no reason to kill Leanne. She was just a good kid. She was just like
Stacey; just like my sister, you know; just somebody that, you know, just enjoyed life. She was
just a big kid, you know. She enjoyed music and we took her to the Kylie Minogue concert. I have
vivid memories of that because she didn't know she was going. Anyway, I said 'I'll see if they've
got any spare tickets' and went down and came back with them. She had a big grin on her face.

(Excerpt from home video of Graham Stafford on day of Queensland Court of Appeal hearing November
last year)

JEAN STAFFORD, GRAHAM STAFFORD'S MOTHER: (to Graham): Well, today's the day. How are you feeling?

GRAHAM STAFFORD (to Jean): Nervous. It's overwhelming the support I've received

(End of Excerpt)

GRAEME CROWLEY, FORMER DETECTIVE: This case is not about Graham Stafford; this is about our system
and making sure that it works properly. There's this whole range of people who are involved; they
want to see justice done. You have a professor of criminology, you have the defence team who are
working pro bono, you have the jury foreman at the original trial; he's very supportive as well.

PETER 'BLUEY' HOBBS, JURY FORMAN: It's very sad the way it's gone for graham over the last 15, 18
years, and... yeah, I just feel like should be a part of it - to get his name cleared and... yeah,
and have a happy ending for him.

GRAHAM STAFFORD: I do feel privileged to have another opportunity to go before the court, but on
the other hand I still harp back and think well, gees it should have been sorted out long before
then, you know. This shouldn't have had to come to this.

JOE CROWLEY, BARRISTER: As I understand it, it is the first time in Queensland history that the
same case has gone back before the Court of Appeal for the third time. So in that sense we're
making history, but in another sense it doesn't make our job any easier because we have to convince
them that there's a reason that they should change their decision that they've made on two previous
occasions.

GRAEME CROWLEY, FORMER DETECTIVE: I think the stakes this time round... they don't get any higher.
I don't think there will be another appeal. If this appeal falls over this is the end of the road,
I believe.

JOE CROWLEY, BARRISTER: This story started on 23rd of September 1991 when Leanne Holland went
missing. She was a 12 year old girl living with her father and her older sister and her older
sister's boyfriend Graham Stafford. On the day that she went missing she was at home on her school
holidays with Graham Stafford, who was on a rostered day off.

GRAHAM STAFFORD: It was just a normal day. I had some work to do on the car. I mean I went to the
car wash and I didn't think anything. I was always at the car wash, you know. There was nothing I
did in that day that was particularly memorable.

(Excerpt of home video footage of Graham from 1989)

The last time I spoke to Leanne, she called out that she was going down the shops. And I said ok,
you know.

(End of excerpt)

JOE CROWLEY, BARRISTER: She was never seen again alive. Her body was found on the following
Thursday and she had been bashed to death.

(Excerpt of Channel 9 News, September 1991)

NEWSREADER: Two police trail bike riders found the girl's half naked body in bushland. A cigarette
lighter was found a short distance away and police have begun taking...

(End of excerpt)

GRAHAM STAFFORD: I remember we were all under the house when they came around and said they located
a body and they were pretty sure it was Leanne, and we all just broke down.

(Excerpt from police interview, 1991)

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE DETECTIVE: And do you recognise any of those items of clothing Graham?

GRAHAM STAFFORD: I recognise the jumper.

(End of excerpt)

GRAHAM STAFFORD: I was very naive. I trusted them to, you know, just look for the truth.

(Excerpt continues)

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE DETECTIVE 2: The carwash was Tuesday?

GRAHAM STAFFORD : I think.

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE DETECTIVE: No, no, no. Monday was your day off, right?

GRAHAM STAFFORD :I'm not sure any more. I have be honest, I'm just so confused.

(End of excerpt)

GRAHAM STAFFORD : When things didn't make sense I expected them to say 'well, this doesn't make
sense'. The police offered me cigarettes at least on four occasions and I thought well after two
occasions you'd get the idea that I don't smoke and I thought that was bizarre, you know. I
remember saying to one of them they're making a big mistake when they said they were arresting me.
When it went to trial I really had a sense of well, at least this will be sorted out now, but...
yeah, it certainly didn't transpire that way.

JOE CROWLEY, BARRISTER: The Prosecution case was that he had bashed her to death with his hammer.
He had then wrapped her body up and carried her down the front stairs of the house and put it in
the boot of the car. His girlfriend had then come home and so he left the body in the boot of the
car that night and all the next day. Then he dumped the body in bushland.

GRAEME CROWLEY, FORMER DETECTIVE: It was a very savage, brutal murder. She had been based
repeatedly and without mercy. There was evidence she had been sexually assaulted.

JOE CROWLEY, BARRISTER : The evidence used was some blood found in the house, some blood found in
his car, sightings of his car out where the body dumped. It was alleged he told lies to police.
There was a maggot which was similar to the maggots found on Leanne's body that was in his boot.

PETER 'BLUEY' HOBBS: For me to find Graham Stafford guilty it was quite an easy decision due to the
circumstances and the facts that we were given.

JEAN STAFFORD, GRAHAM STAFFORD'S MOTHER : It's a dreadful thing when it happens. You just feel like
your heart's dropped through your body and you just can't believe it.

JOE CROWLEY, BARRISTER: He went off jail to serve a life sentence. He always maintained his
innocence.

CAPTION: Graham Stafford immediately appealed against his conviction and life sentence. It was
dismissed.

GRAHAM STAFFORD: When I first went in there were periods when I was targeted for what I was
supposed to have done. I was bashed. There were some prison officers that felt that they had been
given the go-ahead to make my life hell. The food obviously was something I couldn't eat because it
was, you know, targeted; faeces, wire, glass. And some of the people that I had to live with day in
day out... it's a whole other nightmare. This fellow, he's probably one of the most well known
criminals in Queensland prison, he knew that I was saying I was innocent and he said 'oh it's a
real shame', you know, and I thought he was being sympathetic. Then he said 'she's a pretty young
thing, I'd have certainly given her one'. That's the sort of people I had to deal with day in day
out.

GRAEME CROWLEY, FORMER DETECTIVE: I got involved 12 months after the murder. I was working as a
private investigator and the family just couldn't accept the result and just wanted me to check the
evidence. The Stafford family paid me to work on this job for about three months, but I became so
disturbed by this case. There were problems with it, significant problems.

JOE CROWLEY, BARRISTER: Over a number of years Graham Crowley investigated the case and found some
serious inconsistencies with the story that the prosecution had put to the jury at Graham's trial.
For example, he found that the tyre tracks where the body was dumped did not match those of Graham
Stafford's car. The information used to calculate Leanne's time of death was incorrect. He also
found that the sightings of Stafford's car where the body were dumped were flawed, and there were
some serious questions about the finding of a maggot in the boot of Stafford's car. The police
procedure followed was also flawed.

GRAEME CROWLEY, FORMER DETECTIVE: I felt it was my... almost my obligation - my duty - that I had
to keep going with this. Even if I wanted to stop, I couldn't. And then PAUL WILSON, CRIMINOLOGIST
BOND UNIVERSITY became very involved in it as well.

(Excerpt from Australian Story 2007)

PAUL WILSON, CRIMINOLOGIST BOND UNIVERSITY : I've just gone through the interview and it really is
confusing. I kept saying to myself 'This can't be right. This guy couldn't have committed the
murder'. He's got nothing; no violent streaks in him whatsoever.

GRAEME CROWLEY, FORMER DETECTIVE: It was just a snowball effect; just wherever we went people were
donating their time and energy into assisting in the case. It seems inconceivable that you could
carry a body down those stairs without someone driving past and seeing it.

DARRELL GILES, JOURNALIST 'SUNDAY MAIL': Leanne's body had cigarette burns and torture marks from a
lighter. Now, being a non-smoker - Graham Stafford was a non-smoker too - you don't suddenly light
up a cigarette and start putting burn marks on a body. Those kind of things you just don't... it
doesn't happen.

(End of excerpt)

JOE CROWLEY, BARRISTER: Probably the biggest break through was when Graham Crowley got Queensland's
then chief forensic scientist to review the evidence of blood found in the house and blood found in
the boot of the car.

GRAEME CROWLEY, FORMER DETECTIVE: He declared that the murder had never occurred in that house and
the body had never been in the boot of Graham Stafford's car.

CAPTION: In 1997, the new evidence became the basis for a second appeal. One judge, Justice Tony
Fitzgerald, ordered a retrial. The other two judges dismissed the appeal.

JOE CROWLEY, BARRISTER: That appeal failed because it did not address all of the grounds on which
Graham was convicted and so the majority judges said there was still enough evidence for his
conviction of guilt to be maintained. So Graham Stafford stayed in jail.

GRAHAM STAFFORD: I thought this is it, you know, this is probably where I'm going to be for the
duration, you know. I wasn't going to let myself change as a person and I refused to become violent
or bitter. I just kept my head down and it until the book Graeme and Paul wrote that I saw a little
bit of light at the end of the tunnel.

JOE CROWLEY, BARRISTER: In 2000 or 2001 Graham Crowley and criminologist Professor PAUL WILSON,
CRIMINOLOGIST BOND UNIVERSITY from Bond University wrote a book demonstrating the weaknesses in the
Crown case. The jury foreman read the book and decided to make some public statements.

(Excerpt from Australian Story 2007)

PETER 'BLUEY' HOBBS, JURY FORMAN: The blood in the house - we were told there was blood everywhere.
There wasn't blood everywhere; there was a little bit of blood. And these are the things I kept
saying, 'I can't believe this, this is just not what we were told'. I was part of putting him in
there; I've got to be part of getting him out.

JOE CROWLEY, BARRISTER: It was unexpected when Graham was released from jail in 2005 after serving
only about 14 years of a life sentence. Usually people who are sentenced to life imprisonment serve
a minimum of 20 years.

GRAHAM STAFFORD: I have no doubt that my release on parole was due to the release of the book by
Graeme and Paul. Despite my unblemished prison record, they said that until I put up my hand and
confessed to the crime, that I would not be released.

JOE CROWLEY, BARRISTER: One of the conditions of Graham Stafford's parole was that he not talk to
the media about his case.

STACEY BURGESS, SISTER: When he first came out he was... he was like a scared little boy. He wasn't
Graham when he came out. He went in there a confident, young, happy man and came out an older,
scared, shattered man. I really don't know what happened in prison, and to tell you the truth I
don't really want to know. I see movies on TV and I really don't want to know.

GRAHAM STAFFORD: As a family we still have a lot of ground to make up. We all obviously love each
other very much, but at times you wouldn't think so. We have a lot of arguments. I'm not as
pleasant sometimes as I used to be. I know I'm angry; I know I have outbursts. I tend to take it
out on poor old Mum a lot. It's kind of sad that, given all she's done. I remember reading
something years ago the average life span for life sentence prisoners after they were released was
about of seven years. And I thought that's not very long, and I thought well, maybe it's all the
negativity they hang on to; maybe just does their head in.

JOE CROWLEY, BARRISTER: Although Graham Stafford was out of jail he was obviously still a convicted
murderer and he and his supporters wanted to clear his name, and that's how I became involved. Once
you look at the case and you see there are some serious errors with it, I personally was happy to
give up my time to work on it.

CAPTION: Two barristers and a solicitor worked free of charge for three years to secure an
unprecedented third appeal.

JOE CROWLEY, BARRISTER: At this appeal we are going to argue that every ground on which Graham
Stafford was convicted is either wrong or unreliable. We are going to argue that the murder did not
occur in the house; that Leanne's body was never put in the boot of the car; that Graham did not
have the opportunity to commit this murder; that the alleged murder weapon - the hammer - was not
disposed of by Graham Stafford as alleged at the trial, but was in fact in the possession of the
police. And we're attacking the validity of the solitary maggot found in the boot of Graham's car.
We have some new evidence from an entomologist who did some experiments.

JAMES WALLMAN, FORENSIC ENTOMOLOGIST: These experiments suggested that the maggot is unlikely to
have survived in the boot for the period stated by Mr Stafford's prosecution.

JOE CROWLEY, BARRISTER: Well, the upshot of that is that the live maggot that the police allegedly
found in the boot of Graham's car is unlikely to have come from the body of Leanne Holland. We
raised in the petition the fact that one of the investigating officers has subsequently been found
guilty of misconduct in other investigations and is currently facing trial for perverting the
course of justice.

GRAEME CROWLEY, FORMER DETECTIVE: And obviously if the body was never in the boot of the car, how
does a maggot get in there?

JOE CROWLEY, BARRISTER: Unless you really have demonstrable proof that in your case there was
misconduct, courts are very reluctant to see you attack the credibility of a police officer. So in
that sense we decided there were stronger arguments that we could run so we aren't using that
information in this petition.

GRAEME CROWLEY, FORMER DETECTIVE: As a layman I see it as very significant, and the fact that it's
not being put before the appeal court frustrates me somewhat.

JEAN STAFFORD, GRAHAM STAFFORD'S MOTHER : After what Joe said, at least I think we've got a chance.
And we've got a lot of people praying for us, so... I believe in the power of prayer, really.

CAPTION: Graham Stafford's third appeal was held on November 5 last year. Seven weeks later, on
Christmas Eve, the judgment was ready.)

GRAHAM STAFFORD: When I first heard they were going to do it Christmas eve I was feeling pretty
nervous, but I just let it run through my head and thought well, no, it's all going to be good;
there's just too much come out now. So I had a good feeling about it.

(Excerpt of Stafford family entering court Christmas eve, last year)

JEAN STAFFORD, GRAHAM STAFFORD'S MOTHER : This time I'm not going into Court. It's just that I
can't listen to a no. If we get a knock back it will just kill us, so I don't want to be there to
hear it.

JOE CROWLEY, BARRISTER: We're feeling hopeful, yep.

(End of excerpt)

JOE CROWLEY, BARRISTER: We were about the second last judgement delivered, and all the appeals that
had come up before us were being dismissed and dismissed and dismissed, so obviously the tension
was building. And then ours came on and we were appeal upheld, so that was fantastic.

CAPTION: The court found the original trial was flawed and quashed the conviction.

GRAHAM STAFFORD: Once she said the word quashed it was like time just... I wasn't aware of my
surroundings. I just didn't know where I was; just broke down and... it was very emotional. It was
a shame that Mum and Stacey couldn't be there for it, you know, I guess, and Dad, but it was
really, really emotional.

CAPTION: Two of the three judges ordered a retrial on the grounds a jury could still convict him.
The third judge found that Graham Stafford should be acquitted.

GRAHAM STAFFORD: I can't begin to put into words how grateful I am for the support that I've
received over the years.

(Excerpt of Graham Stafford talking to media outside the court)

GRAHAM STAFFORD: I'd just like to thank everyone that's supported me throughout all this... this
nightmare. I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for GRAEME CROWLEY, FORMER DETECTIVE. And I'd just
like to thank my family and friends who've stuck by me throughout. I haven't lost anybody.

(End of footage)

GRAHAM STAFFORD: All these people that have been fighting for me, there's no way I could ever repay
them for what they've done for me.

JEAN STAFFORD, GRAHAM STAFFORD'S MOTHER : We'd like to thank all the support that we've had.
Without all them wouldn't have got where we've got now. They're just angels, so I just want to
thank them all; all of them. They all know who they are anyway.

JOE CROWLEY, BARRISTER: It was great. The court found in our favour and so that's fantastic. So
yeah, I'm happy; very relieved.

STACEY BURGESS, SISTER: Best Christmas present ever, best Christmas present ever.

JEAN STAFFORD, GRAHAM STAFFORD'S MOTHER : Can't have a better Christmas present than what we've got
now.

DARRELL GILES, JOURNALIST 'SUNDAY MAIL': I went in there thinking he wouldn't win today and just
couldn't believe it; staggered.

DAVID SWANSON, GRAHAM STAFFORD'S SOLICITOR: It's a special day for me because I know him to be
innocent and we got the right result finally.

GRAEME CROWLEY, FORMER DETECTIVE: I was excited, elated, happy; it's hard to express really.

PAUL WILSON, CRIMINOLOGIST BOND UNIVERSITY : I was a wee bit unhappy; I wanted a complete
exoneration. I should of realised in Queensland getting a complete exoneration is very hard, if not
impossible. You actually have to go out and find the murderer yourself to get an exoneration here.

GRAEME CROWLEY, FORMER DETECTIVE: I think I've very close to being able to prove who killed Leanne.

JOE CROWLEY, BARRISTER: Graham Crowley is a former police officer and during the investigations of
this case he has come up with three suspects. Two of them have served long sentences for murder.

GRAEME CROWLEY, FORMER DETECTIVE: And the third person is a career criminal who did a long sentence
of imprisonment for incest. This man knew Leanne Holland.

JOE CROWLEY, BARRISTER: And that man's daughters believe that he is Leanne Holland's murderer.

(Excerpt of suspect's daughters interview with Graham Crowley

SUSPECT'S DAUGHTER: The way he is and the way he was with me he would have killed me and I'm his
flesh and blood.

(End of excerpt)

GRAEME CROWLEY, FORMER DETECTIVE: The daughters told me that he was brutal and violent towards
them. One would say he burnt her with cigarettes and cigarette lighters.

(Excerpt of Graeme Crowley with reporter at site where Leanne Holland's body was found)

GRAHAM CROWLEY: I asked them to take me to the spot where he used to bring them, and this is
where...

REPORTER: The exact spot?

GRAEME CROWLEY, FORMER DETECTIVE: The exact spot.

(End of footage)

GRAHAM STAFFORD: I'd still like to see justice done; not just for me but for Leanne; for her
family's sake. Maybe then they will finally accept that I wasn't responsible.

STACEY BURGESS, SISTER: Since the conviction was quashed, I definitely think Graham has changed
immensely; just like the world had lifted off his shoulders. It was just amazing. It's nice to see
that he's found a girlfriend because that would be the hardest thing to go on a date and to
actually say 'oh, by the way, I've been convicted'; that would be the hardest thing to do.

GRAHAM STAFFORD: I'm not really completely settled as yet. Okay, I've got a girlfriend, I've got a
job. I want to settle down, move out of Mum and Dad's place, have my own family, but at the same
time you've still got this other stuff happening.

JOE CROWLEY, BARRISTER: The ball is now back in the court of the prosecution as to whether they now
are going to retry Graham Stafford or not.

CAPTION: On Friday, Queensland's Director of Public Prosecutions announced that another trial would
not be 'in the public interest'.

(Excerpt of Graham Stafford talking to media outside court last Friday)

GRAHAM STAFFORD: I'd just like to say that I'm pleased the charges have been dropped. I'm hopeful
that the authorities will now reopen the investigation into Leanne's murder.

(End of excerpt)

JOE CROWLEY, BARRISTER: Now that the prosecution have decided not to retry Graham Stafford, there
needs to be an independent enquiry into how it got convicted in the first place. I mean, he spent
15 years in custody for this murder, and he needs an opportunity to demonstrate his innocence.

PAUL WILSON, CRIMINOLOGIST BOND UNIVERSITY : This should not be the end of the Graham Stafford
story. There are so many issues that have to be uncovered. If Graham Stafford didn't commit this
crime - and he didn't - then who did? Who killed Leanne?

PETER 'BLUEY' HOBBS, JURY FORMAN: At the end of the day, there's a girl dead and somebody done it.

PAUL WILSON, CRIMINOLOGIST BOND UNIVERSITY : Secondly, I think there are issues about the police
investigation itself. And then there's the whole issue about compensation. Only a further
investigation, I think, will put the necessary pressure on the Queensland Government to award
Graham Stafford the compensation he deserves.

GRAEME CROWLEY, FORMER DETECTIVE: Not one person will put their hand up and say there's obviously a
problem. How pathetic.

GRAEME STAFFORD: I want full vindication, you know. I want them to say that there is no way that I
was ever responsible for Leanne's murder, and that's the only result that I will be satisfied with.

END CAPTIONS:

The Queensland Police say they won't reopen the investigation unless 'new, credible evidence' comes
to light.

Queensland's Attorney General says 'full and proper consideration' would be given to a request for
an inquiry.

Leanne Holland's family say they 'believe the right person has been brought to justice'.