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Key decisions

  • Lang v The Queen [2023] HCA 29
  • Vanderstock v Victoria [2023] HCA 30


Unreasonable verdict and admissibility of expert opinion evidence

In Lang v The Queen [2023] HCA 29 (11 October 2023), the appellant (‘Lang’) sought to overturn his conviction for the murder of Maureen Boyce (‘Boyce’) on two grounds: that the jury verdict was unreasonable and the expert evidence in respect of Boyce’s knife injury was inadmissible.

Boyce died in her bed, in the early hours of the morning, in her 20th floor apartment at Kangaroo Point in Brisbane. Lang was, or had been, in a relationship with Boyce and was in the apartment at the time of her death. The cause of Boyce’s death was blood loss from a stab wound in her abdomen. Lang accepted at trial that there were only two feasible explanations for Boyce’s death: either Boyce died by suicide or Lang murdered her. Evidence adduced in Lang’s second trial for Boyce’s murder, before a judge and jury, included expert evidence given by Dr Ong, a forensic pathologist. Dr Ong’s evidence, given orally, was that Boyce’s injury (which included a single wound with multiple internal stab wounds, or ‘tracks’, and the partial withdrawal and rotation of the knife) was more likely to have been inflicted by someone other than Boyce herself. Lang was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. Lang appealed to the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Queensland against his conviction on two grounds, being the same grounds of his subsequent appeal to the High Court. The Court of Appeal (McMurdo and Mullins JJA and Brown J) unanimously dismissed both grounds of appeal.

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