After a decade in jail, Roseanne Catt is still waiting to have her say in court, writes Wendy Bacon.
A woman who served 10 years in jail for stabbing and threatening to kill her ex-husband will continue to fight to clear her name, despite losing financial backing from the State Government.
Roseanne Catt in jail. Photo: Andrew Taylor
The NSW Attorney-General, Bob Debus, asked the NSW Court of Appeal in mid-2001 to examine the conviction of Roseanne Catt for the offences against Barry Catt. She was convicted in 1991 and served 10 years of a 12-year sentence. She was released after a Queensland businessman alleged that a former NSW detective, Peter Thomas, had admitted planting a gun on her.
This week Legal Aid withdrew financial support for Ms Catt, and Mr Debus refused to commit State Government funding. The Attorney-General usually funds inquiries that it instigates.
Mr Thomas, who was the policeman in charge of the Roseanne Catt case, is expected to be the first witness in the inquiry before Justice Thomas Davidson on Monday. The inquiry is due to consider fresh evidence, much of which has emerged since Catt's release in August 2001.
In September, the NSW Legal Aid Commission wrote to Ms Catt's law firm, Brock and Partners, saying it would fund preparation and presentation of the appeal.
But on January 6, the commission reversed its decision, saying it was outside its guidelines.
Brock and Partners solicitor Kevin Rogers wrote to the Attorney-General: "It is of grave concern ... that after considerable efforts to date in preparing this matter for hearing to enable our client to ultimately obtain justice both your office and NSW Legal Aid have refused to provide further funding in this matter."
On Thursday, a spokesperson for Mr Debus said: "We are seeking fresh submissions with a view to investigating the provision of special funding. It is likely that the hearing date [February 3] will have to be vacated."
But Mr Rogers said he had already sent both the commission and the Attorney-General's Department further detailed explanations of funding requirements.
Ms Catt now says she will not seek an adjournment under any circumstances. "I cannot believe this further injustice. The Crown has spent millions to convict and imprison me for 10 years. Now they deny me money for a lawyer and money needed to subpoena crucial witnesses. But I have waited so long for this day that I will be continuing even if I have to represent myself."
Ms Catt's barrister, Andrew Martin, has agreed to appear in court unpaid next week to examine witnesses called by the Crown while Brock and Partners continues to seek funding to present its own case.
On Monday Mr Martin will cross-examine Mr Thomas about allegations that he planted a gun on Ms Catt and that he threatened witnesses who would have otherwise appeared for her. Mr Thomas will also be cross-examined about evidence he has given in other cases about the circumstances in which he left the police force in 1991.
Brock and Partners has prepared subpoenas for its witnesses including two who Mr Martin told Justice Davidson last week "feared for their safety".
But without funding to cover the defence witness expenses, the subpoenas cannot be served.
"I feel this is just another example of where those responsible do everything in their power to stop the truth from coming out," says Ms Catt.