Thursday, April 16
The lawyer who defended one of the four men found guilty of the murder of North Otago man Justin McFarlane believes it will take several months for his client’s appeal to be heard.
David More, counsel for Ryan Geary Smart, confirmed his client had filed an appeal against his conviction and sentence, as have the other three men involved in Mr McFarlane’s murder, which was described by Justice David Gendall as “callous” and “brutal”.
Robert Cummings, 24, Steven Boskell, 20, Ryan Geary-Smart, 25, and Jacob Geary-Smart, 24, were all found guilty of murder after a nine-week trial late last year.
Cummings, Boskell and Ryan Geary-Smart were sentenced to an 18-year minimum prison term, while Jacob Geary-Smart received a minimum of 17 years.
Stephanie McCormack, 28, was found guilty of being an accessory after the fact and sentenced to eight months’ home detention.
She is not expected to appeal her sentence.
On the night of the murder in September 2013, Mr McFarlane was tied up at his Elderslie home, covered with a sheet and beaten with a fire poker, golf club, a beer bottle and stomped on.
Mr More said while Ryan Geary-Smart would be entitled to an interim grant for legal aid to enable submissions, there would have to be “sufficient merit” for him to qualify for a full grant.
He said the court would require either oral or written submissions.
“The appeal can be allowed or dismissed,” Mr More said.
“If it is allowed, it means a new trial. The sentence can be reduced, or even increase. The court is free to do what they like.”
When asked how long the appeal might take, More said it would be lengthy.
“We’re talking months away and not weeks I would have to say.”
Mr McFarlane’s sister, Kim Julius, told the Oamaru Mailnews of the appeals was devastating for her family, who want the ordeal to be over once and for all.
“It’s something we expected. We are really disappointed they couldn’t accept their punishment and get on with it.
“It stops us from moving forward, having all of this ugliness going forward.”
She said the decision to appeal shows the four have a complete lack of remorse and respect for the family, something she said was evident by the men’s behaviour during the trial, where they repeatedly laughed, joked and stared at Mr McFarlane’s family in an attempt to intimidate them.
Lawyers for the four men confirmed on Monday that appeals had been filed, however none would elaborate on the grounds for the appeals.
– Additional reporting ODT