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John William Chardon guilty of manslaughter

A Brisbane jury has today found John William Chardon guilty of manslaughter over his wife’s disappearance in 2013.

John Chardon
The facts
Novy Chardon went missing the same day her husband John Chardon received a legal letter from her solicitors about custody of their children. Her body has never been found. John Chardon has consistently denied any involvement.
Chardon told police that when he woke up on February 7 his wife was gone, with him suggesting she might have sold $70,000 worth of jewellery to fund her departure. However, investigators found Ms Chardon’s passport and she hadn’t used her bank accounts or social media accounts.

Relevant law

Section of 302 the Criminal Code (Qld) provides that:

“if the offender intends to cause the death of the person killed or that of some other person or if the offender intends to do to the person killed or to some other person some grievous bodily harm… is guilty of “murder”.”

In Weissensteiner v The Queen [1993] HCA 65, it was said that:

“in a criminal trial, hypotheses consistent with innocence may cease to be rational or reasonable in the absence of evidence to support them when that evidence, if it exists at all, must be within the knowledge of the accused.”

In R v White [1998] 2 SCR 72, in the Supreme Court of Canada, Major J said that:

“As a general rule, it will be for the jury to decide, on the basis of the evidence as a whole, whether the post-offence conduct of the accused is related to the crime before them rather than to some other culpable act. It is also within the province of the jury to consider how much weight, if any, such evidence should be accorded in the final determination of guilt or innocence. For the trial judge to interfere in that process will in most cases constitute a usurpation of the jury’s exclusive fact-finding role.”

In The Queen v Baden-Clay [2016] HCA 35 (31 August 2016), the High Court held that a jury is entitled to take into account the false denials of an accused in involvement in a person’s death to find that they did intend to cause the death and are therefore guilty of murder.   That case also confirms that no direct evidence of the element of intent is required.

Supreme Court jury’s decision
By reaching the verdict it did, the jury has rejected Chardon’s claims of innocence and found that he did in some way cause his wife’s death. But the jury has also determined that it was not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that he intended to cause his wife’s death, or grievous bodily harm.
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