Sister slams killers' taxpayer funded appeal

Gladstone man Luke McAuliffe died in his home.
Gladstone man Luke McAuliffe died in his home. Contributed

"JUST to know our money is trying to keep them out of jail is just ridiculous."

The frustration in Kylee Pelling's voice was palpable on Thursday as she spoke of her disgust at Bradley David Hill and Kerryn Ann Young's latest plans to appeal their life sentences.

Hill and Young were found guilty of murdering Ms Pelling's brother, Luke McAuliffe, in Gladstone in October 2010 and despite the Queensland Court of Appeal upholding the guilty verdicts in May, it has been revealed the pair lodged an application on June 13 for special leave to appeal to the High Court of Australia against their sentences.

The interruption to the family's barely begun grieving process left Luke's sister dumbfounded.

"I just can't believe it," Ms Pelling said.

"I'm just speechless how they can do this with Legal Aid. I know everyone's got a right to justice, but how can you use taxpayers' money when there must be other people who need that money."

A High Court of Australia spokesman confirmed Legal Aid had been approved for Hill and Young, who would have to convince a panel of High Court justices that their case was either one of national interest or a gross miscarriage of justice to have any chance of a full hearing.

"They could be seeking an acquittal or a retrial if successful," the spokesman said.

"They're only seeking special leave to appeal at the moment."

Ms Pelling said she was confused as to why another appeal process was to be undertaken, as her and her parents were of the understanding the requirements for the High Court appeal had not been met.

"What we understood was there'd have to be new evidence for it to go to the High Court," she said.

Mr McAuliffe's sister had previously spoken of the heartache the first appeal process had put her family through, and the relief that had come with the Court of Appeal decision to uphold the verdicts, the latest developments compelling her to speak out.

"There must be other families that go through this and you don't know about the Court of Appeal and the High Court processes and what it puts the families through," Ms Pelling said.

The Office of the Attorney-General refused to speculate on the possibility of the Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie himself weighing in on the upcoming appeal process, not expected to get under way before late 2014.

"The normal process is the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions appears on behalf on the state of Queensland and the Attorney-General will monitor the matter," an Attorney-General's department spokeswoman said late yesterday.


  • October 10, 2010: Luke McAuliffe found dead in his parents' Gladstone home.
  • June 4, 2013: Rockhampton jury returns guilty verdicts for Hill and Young, who are given life imprisonments for the murder.
  • May 16, 2014: Queensland Court of Appeal upholds murder convictions.

Topics:  gladstone crime high court of australia luke mcauliffe murder

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