Acquittal for Victim of NSW Police Fabricating Evidence

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Acquittal for Victim of NSW Police Fabricating Evidence


The NSW Court of Criminal Appeal has yesterday (28 August 2023) handed down its judgment in the matter of Honeysett v Director of Public Prosecutions [2023] NSWCCA 215 (on Caselaw NSW) and allowed an appeal by Eric Honeysett following a referral by the Attorney-General of NSW.

On 23 December 1983, Mr Eric Honeysett (who had apparently been the target of a “Joint Task Force” operated by NSW and AFP officers) was apprehended. After the police announced for him to stop, he sought to evade capture and during the short chase, one officer (a Detective Paynter) cut his arm on a fence chasing after the appellant. Mr Honeysett was apprehended a short time later where it was said a search was conducted of his person and a small quantity of heroin was discovered.

Following his arrest, several officers participated in a ‘scrum down’ to collude on the preparation of their statements. It was agreed that Mr Honeysett would be ‘loaded up’ with a charge of stabbing Detective Paynter.

Mr Honeysett was arranged by a jury on indictment for maliciously wounding Detective Paynter and for supplying heroin. The trial commenced and evidence was led from officers involved to the effect that Mr Honeysett had stabbed Detective Paynter and supplied heroin.

Whilst Mr Honeysett had to that point maintained his innocence and that he had neither supplied heroin nor stabbed Paynter, he weighed that against numerous police officers and detectives, it was unlikely that he would be believed. He pled guilty and spent 3 years in prison.

Mr Honeysett’s case was later the subject of inquiry during the Royal Commission conducted by the Hon Justice Wood into various matters relating to the NSW Police Force. [1] [2] During the Royal Commission, it was revealed that the evidence about the supply of heroin and stabbing Paynter had been fabricated by the Police.

In September 2020, a petition was sent by Melinda Griffiths Lawyers acting for Mr Honeysett to the Governor of New South Wales for a review of the case. The matter was referred to the Attorney-General and then to the Court of Criminal Appeal.

On Appeal, Mr Honeysett was represented by Mr John Stratton SC and Mr Dean Woodbury, instructed by Melinda Griffiths Lawyers. The Appeal was heard on 2 August 2023.

In his judgment, Beech-Jones CJ at Common Law at [44], found inter alia that:
The evidence of the Royal Commission “…overwhelmingly demonstrated that the evidence in support of the allegation that the appellant stabbed Detective Paynter was concocted and that Detective Paynter was not in fact stabbed… …The actions of the police in planting a knife at the scene, preparing statements that knowingly and falsely accused the appellant of stabbing Detective Paynter and supplying drugs, laying and maintaining charges and, in the case of JTF14, perjuring themselves at the appellant’s trial were a shocking perversion of the course of justice. For the purposes of the above statements in Meissner, those actions were a form of “fraud” or were sufficiently analogous to the concept of “fraud” to establish a miscarriage of justice”….”

The convictions against Mr Honeysett were set aside and acquittals were entered in lieu thereof. The Appellant, consistent with the recently decided case of Rodden v R [2023] NSWCCA 202 was granted a costs certificate, though he was represented by legal aid.

With the setting aside of the convictions, and the findings made by the Court, this means that Mr Honeysett spent 3 years in prison for offenses that he not only did not commit but which had been entirely fabricated by police officers.

What is especially unfortunate is that Mr Honeysett was not positively assisted by the State after the Royal Commission’s investigation was complete, and the specific findings were made about his case. As the CCA Judgment makes quite clear, the Royal Commission received emphatic evidence about the innocence of Mr Honeysett and yet Mr Honeysett had to agitate for the petition to clear his name.


[1] A copy of volume 1 of the report can be viewed online here:

[2] A complete copy of the report can be ordered from here:


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