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R v Abraham


[2010] QCA 225









DC No 907 of 2009

Court of Appeal


Appeal against Conviction



24 August 2010




24 August 2010


Holmes, Muir and White JJA

Separate reasons for judgment of each member of the Court, each concurring as to the orders made


  1. Appeal allowed.
  2. The verdicts of guilty are set aside.
  3. A new trial is ordered on indictment number 907 of 2009


CRIMINAL LAW – APPEAL AND NEW TRIAL – MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE – PARTICULAR CIRCUMSTANCES AMOUNTING TO A MISCARRIAGE – OTHER IRREGULARITIES – where appellant convicted of six counts of unlawfully using a motor vehicle to facilitate the commission of an indictable offence and four counts of armed robbery in company – where appellant appealed conviction on the ground that police interviews and witness statements were wrongly admitted – where transcript revealed that the appellant had been tried on two separate indictments – where, after the close of evidence, the Crown entered a nolle prosequi to each of the two indictments and presented a single indictment reproducing the counts on the two previous indictments – where appellant was not arraigned on the new indictment – where trial  not conducted on the new indictment – where jury not sworn to return a verdict on the new indictment – whether a fundamental miscarriage of justice had occurred – whether trial a nullity

Maher v The Queen (1987) 163 CLR 221; [1987] HCA 31, considered

R v Cockrell [2005] 2 Qd R 448; [2005] QCA 59, considered


The appellant appeared on his own behalf

M J Copley SC for the respondent


The appellant appeared on his own behalf

Director of Public Prosecutions (Queensland) for the respondent

HOLMES JA:  The appellant was convicted after a trial of six counts of unlawfully using a motor vehicle to facilitate the commission of an indictable offence and four counts of armed robbery in company.  He was acquitted of a further two counts of armed robbery in company.  He appeals his conviction on the ground that evidence of three police interviews and three witness statements made by him were wrongly admitted with the result, as the appeal notice puts it, that the convictions are “unsafe and unsatisfactory”. 

However, it is clear that the convictions must, in any event, be set aside for other reasons.  Mr Copley SC for the Crown has pointed to fundamental errors which make it proper that the notice of appeal be amended in terms which he has helpfully suggested:

“That a miscarriage of justice occurred because the appellant was not lawfully convicted of any count.”

The reason for that can be shortly stated.  Firstly, the counts against the appellant were contained on two separate indictments on which he was arraigned before the jury.  Counsel for both the appellant and the Crown at first instance seem to have proceeded on the assumption that indictments, like charges, could be joined, although nothing in the Criminal Code permits any such form of joinder and s 597A, which deals with the ordering of separate trials, plainly contemplates a situation where more than one offence may be charged in the same indictment, but not the possibility of a single trial on separate indictments. 

 But much more remarkable, after both the Crown and defence cases had closed, the trial Judge expressed his concern that he could not find any statutory provision permitting trial on separate indictments.  The defence obligingly consented to the entering of a nolle prosequi to each of the two existing indictments and the presentation of a fresh indictment combining all charges.  The appellant was discharged on the original indictments and verdicts were taken on the counts of the new indictment although he had not been arraigned on it, no plea had been taken, no trial had proceeded in respect of it and the jury was not sworn to return a verdict on the counts on it.  The convictions must be set aside.

In Maher v The Queen[1] it was said of such a situation that a failure to comply with the requirements of the Code may render a trial a nullity, at least in the sense that the conviction produced cannot withstand an appeal.  In any event, it involves such a miscarriage of justice as to require the conviction to be set aside.  It does not matter for present purposes whether the result is a miscarriage of justice requiring setting aside of the convictions, or convictions which are a nullity.  Mr Copley has helpfully drawn the Court’s attention to R v Cockrell[2] in which this Court reached the conclusion that where criminal proceedings were a nullity, a new trial could be ordered.

In the extraordinary circumstances of this case, the proper orders are:

  1.  The appeal should be allowed.
  2.  The verdicts of guilty should be set aside.
  3.  A new trial must be ordered on indictment number 907 of 2009.

MUIR JA:  I agree.

WHITE JA:  I agree.

HOLMES JA:  Those are the orders.


[1](1987) 163 CLR 221 at 233.

[2] [2005] 2 Qd R 448.


Editorial Notes

  • Published Case Name:

    R v Abraham

  • Shortened Case Name:

    R v Abraham

  • MNC:

    [2010] QCA 225

  • Court:


  • Judge(s):

    Holmes JA, Muir JA, White JA

  • Date:

    24 Aug 2010

  • White Star Case:


Litigation History

Event Citation or File Date Notes
Primary Judgment DC907/2009 (No Citation) - Criminal
Appeal Determined (QCA) [2010] QCA 225 24 Aug 2010 Appeal allowed, verdicts of guilty set aside, new trial ordered

Appeal Status

{solid} Appeal Determined (QCA)