Gordon Wood loses malicious prosecution appeal over 'murder'
Gordon Wood won't pocket any compensation after the state's highest court ruled he was not maliciously prosecuted for the murder of his model girlfriend.
More than seven years after Mr Wood was acquitted of killing Caroline Byrne at a notorious Sydney suicide cliff, the NSW Court of Appeal found he is not entitled to damages.
The former chauffeur to celebrity stockbroker Rene Rivkin was in 2008 found guilty of throwing his 24-year-old lover off The Gap in the city's eastern suburbs more than two decades ago.
But that conviction was quashed in 2012 after Mr Wood had spent three years in prison and the 57-year-old sued the state for more than $20 million.
Last August a Supreme Court judge delivered a smackdown on "egoistic" star Crown prosecutor Mark Tedeschi QC's "proven misconduct" during the high profile trial, labelling his tactics flawed and grossly unfair but not malicious.
Mr Wood appeal this decision, wanting the case sent back to Justice Elizabeth Fullerton so she could assess damages or set a retrial.
But on Friday Justices Carolyn Simpson, Anthony Payne and Fabian Gleeson dismissed the appeal, meaning Mr Wood will have to pay the state's legal costs.
They said Justice Fullerton engaged in a painstakingly forensic and highly detailed examination of all of the evidence before concluding that Mr Tedeschi was not dishonestly concealing an improper motive.
"There was no error shown in the way her Honour dealt with the issue of malice," they said.
"The burden of proving that a professional prosecutor acted with malice is a heavy one … her Honour was correct to conclude that malice was not established."
Ms Byrne's mangled body was found on jagged rocks at the bottom of the cliff at Watsons Bay on June 1995, but Justice Fullerton did not make any findings about whether she was thrown, dived or ran to her death.
The primary judge found Mr Tedeschi changed the Crown case to hide the flaws of key expert witness, physics Professor Robert Cross, who claimed Mr Wood was capable of "spear throwing" Ms Byrne's unconscious limp body off the cliff.
"All of the adverse findings her Honour had made in relation to Mr Tedeschi acting inconsistently with his legal and ethical obligations as a Crown Prosecutor and the lack of reasonable and probable cause did not dictate a finding of malice," the appeal judges said.
Mr Wood had claimed the "ridiculous" case against him was driven by Ms Byrne's jealous ex-boyfriend who was a cop at the time, while police "poisoned" the mind of Associate Professor Cross who had a motive to see him convicted because he was writing a book.