A NEWCASTLE man who spent 69 days in jail accused of shooting his enemy, notorious Hunter criminal Daniel Fing, and was then acquitted after a jury deliberated for less than 20 minutes is suing the state of NSW for malicious prosecution and false imprisonment.
Matthew Bruce William Edwards is claiming damages in the NSW Supreme Court in Sydney and is expected to face a three-week hearing before Justice Michael Walton beginning on Tuesday.
Mr Edwards was arrested in February, 2011, and charged with causing grievous bodily harm with intent to murder in relation to the shooting of his rival Mr Fing at Belmont North.
Mr Edwards was behind bars bail refused until March 28, 2011, when he was granted conditional bail, but he was unable to provide the necessary surety and was not released from jail until May 5, 2011, according to court documents.
He pleaded not guilty and the matter went to trial in Newcastle District Court on February 11, 2013.
During his opening address, then defence barrister Paul Marr told the jury to pay close attention to Mr Fing's testimony.
And then during the evidence, Mr Marr suggested to Mr Fing that he had either shot himself or got someone else to shoot him, to frame Mr Edwards.
On February 26, 2013, after deliberating for less than 20 minutes, a jury found Mr Edwards not guilty of the attempted murder charge.
Mr Edwards launched the legal action against the state of NSW in November, 2014, claiming damages for what he said was false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.
The matter was sent for mediation in June, 2018, but was not settled, according to the NSW Supreme Court, and the three-week hearing was confirmed.
The bar for proving malicious prosecution is notoriously high.
It is not enough that someone was wrongly accused or that a person was wrongly convicted, it must be proven that the legal proceedings against the person were instituted with malice and without reasonable grounds.
In the case of Gordon Wood, wrongfully convicted of killing his girlfriend Caroline Byrne, Justice Elizabeth Fullerton was scathing of the state's former top prosecutor Mark Tedeschi, QC, but was still not persuaded he acted maliciously.
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