Heather Osland Case Analysis

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1. The Case

Osland v R was a matter appealed to The High Court of Australia from The Supreme Court of Victoria. The matter involved Heather Osland (as seen right) one of the accused, her son David Albion the other defendant and their husband/stepfather Frank Osland the victim. The Victorian director of public prosecutions on behalf of the Queen conducted the prosecution, and was the respondent in this appeal. Heather was convicted of murder. On the 10th of December 1998 the High Court dismissed Heathers appeal against her conviction of murder.

David was originally tried with his mother but the jury struggle to return a unanimous verdict; he was then re-tried on his own and was acquitted of the murder charge

Five or the seven high court judges …show more content…

In this case due to the very general nature of the battered woman syndrome given from the expert and Heather there was no error in the directions given to the jury.
3. Significance

This particular case is quite significant as it raised a fair bit of awareness about domestic violence and violence against women. The use of ‘the battered woman syndrome’ as a defense linked to self-defense, and the publicity surrounding the case meant that the general Australian public was exposed to the issue. As a result of the case, a feminist activist group called “The Release Heather Osland Group” fought for the emancipation of Heather, any other women in a similar situation to her and a change in legislation making ‘the battered woman syndrome’ an legal defense.
4. Analysis

The outcome of the case does not seem logical to me personally. I am conflicted about the entire decision so instead I will state what I do believe was a poor decision on part of the Australian legal …show more content…

There was no mention of an innocent agent in David’s trial meaning he knew what he was doing. It couldn’t have been direct self-defense as he was not the recipient of abuse. (He did not claim to be defending his mother.)

The case has not changed any laws surrounding battered woman syndrome but the way the court receives cases similar to this is a more systematic and fair process. Equality in the court and relating to women is closer to being achieved then it was during this case.
5. Personal Decision

If I were the deciding judge on the panel I would come to the following conclusion:

There is sufficient evidence to suggest both the innocence and guilt of Mrs. Osland. Due to this and the inconsistency with to David Albion’s verdict I would quash the conviction and order a retrial.

A trial would then determine whether she is again convicted or instead acquitted. If she is convicted again then that will be final, as two juries would have accepted her guilt. If two juries have found her guilty then under that verdict would be

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