The Keli Lane case has captured the attention of the Australian public since 2011. The disappearance of baby Tegan and her mother’s conviction for her murder has raised a number of legal and social issues. Recently the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has screened a documentary regarding this controversial case.
The role of the media in investigating cases after their resolution has been inspired by podcasts such as Serial and others which seek to address alleged miscarriages of justice and use the power of the media and the fascination with ‘true crime’ to bring about outcomes such as retrials or exonerations of convicted people.
This blog post is a curated collection of key legal documents and media sources on the cases. It seeks to provide an overview that will assist Legal Studies teachers and their students discuss and evaluate the cases and the media response.
In addition to this mash-up, a Rule of Law Case Note has also been prepared to highlight key rule of law principles from the case.
R v Keli Lane NSWSC 289 – Murder Trial
Keli Lane v R  NSWSC 146 – Bail application to CCA appeal
Lane v R  NSWCCA 317 – Court of Appeal Decision
This ABC Documentary goes into exhaustive detail in his examination of the case.
During the documentary it is alleged police didn’t interview all witnesses, this article follows up on some of the material in the documentary. The documentary makers allege that police never commissioned the drawing of a composite image, or comfit, of Andrew Norris ( the man Keli Lane said was Tegan’s father) adding to doubts about evidence. This article shows the construction of a comfit and asks the questions of ‘have you seen this man?
This article outlines an academic’s view that there has been a wrongful conviction in the Keli Lane case.
Dr Ruyters said the ABC’s investigation has opened people’s eyes to the possibility that the police can sometimes get it wrong.
Lane’s conviction continues to attract the interest of the public, including a group of Melbourne law students and their lecturer, who have been following the case since receiving an impassioned letter from Lane in 2015.
Justice Whealy agreed with the defence that elements of the Crown case, including evidence regarding Lane’s alleged motive and opportunity to kill, were “rather weak” but said it was left to the jury to decide.
This article outlines the the details of the appeal case in 2013.
”It is submitted that in the circumstances of this case, it would have been reasonably open or viable on the evidence for the jury to return a verdict of manslaughter as opposed to murder,” the appeal argues.
It would also be claimed that the trial ”miscarried by reason of the prejudice occasioned by the crown prosecutor”.
An Australian Women’s Weekly article on Keli Lane’s life behind bars that discusses her perspective.
In her five years in jail and, indeed, throughout the 15 years since police began asking questions, Keli has never wavered from her story that she gave Tegan to her biological father at the hospital as she was leaving: a man whose name she doesn’t remember
A criminologist, Dr Xanthe Mallett’s perspective on the case.
…someone can be found guilty of murder when no evidence exists to demonstrate murder took place. If Lane can be found guilty of murder under these circumstances, with no body, no forensic evidence or witnesses, and no rational motive, then any one of us could be accused and found guilty of a crime.
In this article, Former NSW Department of Community Services (DoCS) child protection case worker John Borovnik has raised concerns about some of the policing and prosecutorial practices which led to Lane’s conviction. These have been described as “very worrying” by the judge who presided over Lane’s 2010 murder trial.
In 2019, the Bridge of Hope Innocence Initiative called for an urgent review into the Keli Lane case. http://www.bohii.net/keli-lane
Ongoing analysis and public debate regarding this case is likely to continue ahead of Lane becoming eligible for parole in 2023.