A former Baptist minister jailed for raping a Sydney teenager three decades ago has had his conviction quashed after an appeal court said his trial miscarried.
David Benedict Hogg was found guilty in February 2018 of digitally penetrating a 16-year-old without her consent near the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1988.
The founder of Newcastle-based not-for-profit organisation Lifestyle Solutions was later jailed for two years and four months. His parole began in June 2019, one year into his sentence.
But on Monday, his conviction was overturned by three NSW Court of Criminal Appeal judges.
Hogg, who exercised his right to silence in a police interview after getting legal advice, successfully argued this decision was unfairly portrayed at trial and the jury was not open to draw an adverse inference when his reason went unchallenged.
He also successfully convinced the appeal judges that the Crown's cross-examination and submissions to the jury about Hogg's good character were unfairly prejudicial.
Justice Richard White said he would have ordered a new trial had the appeal been dealt with immediately after the trial.
"But that has not happened," the judge said on Monday, noting Hogg had served 18 months of his 28-month sentence.
"It is not in the interests of justice, in its wider sense, that there be a new trial in relation to the alleged offence that took place more than 30 years ago."
Justice Robertson Wright agreed no retrial should be ordered but Justice Helen Wilson said the interests of justice called for the matter to go to a retrial, noting the potential impact of a sexual assault conviction on matters such on child protection.
Australian Associated Press