A woman has been vindicated after she successfully appealed her conviction for helping her boyfriend hide from police after he killed a home invader with a samurai sword.
Hannah Quinn, 28, was found guilty of being an accessory to manslaughter and sentenced to a two-year community corrections order in May 2021.
A jury found that she had assisted her boyfriend Blake Davis in hiding from police after he killed aspiring rapper Jett McKee during a botched home invasion.
A balaclava-clad McKee had broken into Davis’ home on the afternoon of August 10, 2018 and yelled at the couple to “give me all your f***ing money or I’ll kill you”.
He threatened the pair with a gun and used knuckle dusters to knock Davis out cold before attempting to flee with Quinn’s handbag.
The couple pursued him down the street in the Sydney suburb of Forest Lodge and Quinn caught up to him.
They grappled before Davis ran up to them, clutching a ceremonial samurai sword he grabbed from his house. He then killed the robber with a single fatal blow to the head.
The couple spent three days bouncing from hotel to hotel, which police alleged was an attempt to evade capture.
Quinn launched an appeal against her conviction, arguing the jury had reached an unreasonable verdict.
On Friday, the Court of Criminal Appeal agreed to quash her conviction after finding the jury did not entertain reasonable doubt about the proof of her guilt.
The appeal hinged on the question of whether McKee had threatened Quinn with a gun immediately before her boyfriend intervened and fatally struck him with the sword.
The 28-year-old was the only witness to testify to seeing the gun, but the court heard other witnesses saw the incident from “varying distances” and obstructive angles.
Hours after the violent altercation, Quinn told a friend that McKee had pointed a gun at her while he was on the ground. The witness provided “strong evidence” which was consistent with her being threatened, the Justices found.
A gun was found near where the robber was struck with the sword, alongside knuckledusters and a balaclava.
Given McKee was high on meth and had threatened the couple in their home only moments earlier, Justice Bell said it was “the most persuasive inference” that he threatened her with the firearm on the street.
He found it was possible that Quinn had believed her boyfriend saw McKee brandishing the gun at her and that he had decided it was necessary to defend her.
To meet the threshold for being an accessory after the fact to manslaughter, Quinn had to be proven to have concealed Davis’ crime while knowing he had an “unreasonable” reaction.
However, Justice Bell found there was a possibility Quinn believed her boyfriend acted reasonably by leaping to her defence after seeing her threatened at gunpoint.
She also told police she had not spent three days with Davis in hotels because of McKee’s death, but instead out of fear for her own safety.
The 28-year-old explained she was terrified of threats made by McKee that his associates would “come after her”.
Justices Bell and Deborah Sweeney found the jury had not adequately assessed the proof in Quinn’s trial.
“In this most unusual of cases, the jury’s verdict in relation to the Applicant should, in my considered opinion, be set aside as unreasonable and the Applicant acquitted,” Chief Justice Andrew Bell wrote in the judgment.
Justice Helen Wilson dissented from the decision, noting the jury delivered their decision after having the “singular advantage” of seeing the witnesses give evidence.
Quinn did not appear in court when Justice Deborah Sweeney delivered the eagerly anticipated news.
Her lawyer Lauren MacDougall told NCA NewsWire that her client welcomed the verdict.
“This was an important result for Hannah and the vindication she hoped for,” she said.
“She is looking forward to putting this tragic event behind her.”