Innocent narratives: wrongful conviction, Australian Story and the influence on public opinion
Faculty of Business and Law
School of Law and Justice
In Western Australia, the fallibility of the criminal justice system has been highlighted by three high-profile cases of wrongful conviction. As a narrative, the fallibility of the justice system was the focus of a series of stories on the wrongful convictions of John Button, Andrew Mallard and three men accused of the murder of Phillip Walsham, by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Australian Story. Unique to these stories was the case of Phillip Walsham's death, which generated heated public debate, accusations of bias and backlash towards the three men wrongfully accused of murder. By focusing on these stories and their representations through Australian Story, this paper aims to identify how various stylistic devices of documentary-making influenced the public reaction of particular narratives by comparing three different approaches to wrongful conviction. This investigation is important in the context of successful exonerees who are required to challenge accepted narratives of their former crimes and avoid potentially destructive consequences of negative public opinion.