Andrew Mallard struggled to adapt to life after being freed from 12 years in jail but told his family in the last week he had found love and was going to get married.
- Andrew Mallard was killed when he was struck by a car in LA on Thursday
- His friend Colleen Egan says he had just found some happiness before his death
- Mr Mallard’s wrongful conviction saw WA laws changed to make trials fairer
Tributes have been paid to Mr Mallard, 56, after his death in a hit-and-run crash in Los Angeles.
He was hit by a car after leaving a bar late on Thursday night in Hollywood and could not be revived.
Mr Mallard had been visiting his fiance during a trip from his new home in Britain, where he moved after being exonerated in 2006 of the murder of Perth jeweller Pamela Lawrence — a crime he was wrongfully convicted of and which led to him spending 12 years behind bars.
His close friend Colleen Egan, a former journalist, was the first with his family to start fighting for his innocence.
“I suppose it’s bittersweet that maybe he was feeling some happiness at the time that he was taken,” she said.
“Now for him to die in these circumstances, it’s just a tragedy.”
Mr Mallard’s death has left his 92-year-old mother Grace and sister Jaqui Mallard heartbroken.
For many years, Egan and Mr Mallard’s family thought they would never be able to prove his innocence, and worried he would die in jail.
“He spent 13 years since then of freedom, and it’s just sad that he didn’t spend more time outside jail,” she said.
They sought the help of former police union lawyer and then-Labor backbencher John Quigley, who was eventually able to disclose evidence that had not been heard at Mr Mallard’s original trial and was instrumental in securing an appeal.
A hard transition from jail
On November 15, 2005, the High Court ruled there had been a miscarriage of justice, citing the “non-disclosure or suppression of material evidence in the hands of the police and thus available to the prosecution”.
Two months later, Mr Mallard was freed.
But life out of prison was difficult, even with a $3.2 million compensation payment.
He struggled with the fact he had spent so much time in a maximum security jail and Egan said he suffered post-traumatic stress.
“Having spent most of his 30s and some of his 40s in prison, he really just wanted to find a family and settle down and find someone to love and have that happy ever after, I suppose,” Egan said.
But that chance at contentment and peace was cut short because of what appears to be a completely random traffic incident.
Mallard case left lasting legacy: McGinty
Jim McGinty, who as WA attorney-general agreed to refer Mr Mallard’s case to the High Court, said dramatic changes to WA’s disclosure laws were a lasting impact of Mr Mallard’s wrongful conviction.
“That I would hope cannot happen today, because of the new disclosure laws which make it mandatory for the prosecution the police and the DPP to fully disclose any information they have,” Mr McGinty said.
“Today it’s embedded in our criminal justice system, there’s no more ambushes, there’s no more withholding of information, whether it’s pro or con the information must be disclosed.
“And our trials today in Western Australia are very much fairer.
“We changed the law here to reflect the injustice that was meted out to Andrew Mallard.”