Reference for Churchill Scholarship application

I have known Estelle Blackburn for 20 years, and more closely for the past six years since she approached me to represent John Button and Darryl Beamish in their new appeals before WA’s Court of Criminal Appeal. I readily took on these cases pro bono once I read her book ‘Broken Lives’ and discovered the excellent argument she presented for their innocence and realised the effort Estelle had put into redressing these injustices. Thanks to her dedication over a period of 14 years, John Button has been exonerated of a wrongful conviction perpetrated on him 39 years earlier, and Darryl Beamish’s wrongful conviction in 1961 is now in the hands of the Court of Criminal Appeal. It took an inspired outsider like Estelle to bring these legal and social milestones in the history of WA, for no financial reward.

I can happily vouch for Estelle’s impeccable good character. Proof lies in her compassion for the suffering of two complete strangers to her in Button and Beamish, her love of truth, commitment to rectifying injustice and history through passionate persistence and her unrelenting determination to win against the odds. At great personal sacrifice, she selflessly gave up a successful career as Press Secretary to the Premier to devote years of her life, and all her savings and more, to a task that would be just too daunting to most, but to which she applied her superhuman doggedness and tactfulness. Her thoughtful devotion to other victims caught up in this tragedy also brought healing to those who had never had acknowledgement or recognition or their hit-run attempted murders and violent assaults while asleep.

Not resting on her laurels at this success, Estelle has been devoting her time and energy to other people suffering wrongful convictions and is also applying herself to efforts to establish a sorely needed Innocence Project in Perth so that there is a far bigger resource base to help those suffering from the results of police and prosecution malpractice.
30 April 2005

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