Paul P. Mealing

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Monday, 27 June 2011

The case of Jock Palfreeman

This is a story about clashes: a clash of cultures, a clash of justice systems, a clash of families; and its genesis was a clash on the streets that has resulted in tragedy for both sides. I’m sure no one knows about this outside of Bulgaria and Australia, and I suspect some will see it as a clash of two countries.

Not surprisingly, I’ve only seen one side of the story, through Australian journalists and an Australian family, though the prosecutor for the Bulgarian side was interviewed and we see footage of the victim’s father voicing his opinion on Bulgarian national television. The victim’s family refused to be interviewed by Australian journalists (from the ABC).

Basically, 24 year old Jock Palfreeman, an Australian who has spent some time in Bulgaria – enough to be familiar with its darker side – became involved in a melee when he went to the aid of a Roma (gypsy) being bashed and became the target of the attack himself. According to his account, he was knocked to the ground when hit on the head from behind, and, when he regained his feet, drew a knife to defend himself. This apparently resulted in the death of 20 year old Andrei Monov, who suffered a single knife wound under his armpit, though Palfreeman claims he has no memory of inflicting the wound, even though he admits he was wielding a knife.

There are statements from witnesses who support Palfreeman’s account of events, quite accurately, yet these statements were not admitted to the court, and Police written statements also conflicted with their in-court evidence. When the defence team requested that the original Police statements be admitted to court, they were overruled by the victim’s family, who were part of the prosecution team. Apparently, this is the norm in Bulgaria. Jock Palfreeman’s father, Dr. Simon Palfreeman, who is a pathologist, had to mount the defence case, though he hired an Australian legal team to help him.

Simon Palfreeman, who is a scientist by discipline, had never had to deal with a legal exercise of this nature before, let alone in a foreign Eastern bloc country. In hindsight, his faith that justice and fair representation would prevail could be seen as naïve. Certainly, his son has a better appreciation of the situation than his father.

In the end, Jock Palfreeman was charged with ‘Murder with hooliganism’ and the sentence handed down was 20 years. They’ve since gone through an appeal process, which is Part 2 of the programme, and the conviction was upheld. The defence team are now talking about going to the European Court of Human Rights where Bulgaria has 200 cases pending, apparently.

What I find remarkable, in Part 2, is that Jock Palfreeman has not only become acceptant of his fate, but has taken on a role of supporting fellow inmates in one the worse prisons in Europe, according to Dr Krassimir Kanev, Bulgarian Helsinki Commitee, Human Rights Group.

Part 1 and Part 2 are 30mins each, or you can read the transcripts.

Addendum: It's worth watching/listening to the 5 min interview with Prof. David Barclay, an internationally recognised forensics expert at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland (behind the Part 2 link).


Paul P. Mealing said...

I've added an addendum to my last post where I recommend an interview with Dr. David Barclay that can be found in one of the post's links.

Regards, Paul.

Paul P. Mealing said...

I've changed the title to make it easier for search engines.

Regards, Paul.

Paul P. Mealing said...

In the latest chapter of this saga, Jock Palfreeman has lost his appeal.

I heard that the appeal was based on conflicting witness statements, but the Appeals Court apparently said that this was not enough to re-open the case. In fact, they charged that Palfreeman pay $300,000 to the victim's family.

This appears to be a political decision rather than one based on justice. A young man goes to the defence of someone being beaten up by a gang and then he becomes the perpetrator of the crime. To anyone outside the case, it's hard to argue that justice has been served.

Regards, Paul.

Anonymous said...

The most interesting thing about the Palfremean case is the number of left wingers who are falling over themselves to defend him.

Im sure if it was a member of a neo nazi party who stabbed someone in the back, resulting in his death, there would be calls for public hanging.

Coem on chaps, fair is fair. This twat carried a knife, picked a fight, and killed someone. No excuses. He absolutely deserves his sentence.

Forget "gypsies" gangs, hooligans, etc. look at the three key facts:

Carried a knife.
Got involved in someone else's fight.
Stabbed someone to death.

End of story, and end of Jock too.

Paul P. Mealing said...

Hi Anonymous,

The issue here is that justice was not served. Evidence was suppressed, and, in particular, the victim’s family could vetoe the evidence, which is unheard of in Western judicial systems.

Miscarriages of justice occur in many countries, including Australia, so we left-wingers get agitated whenever that happens. I don’t envy anyone who is charged with a crime in a foreign country. Even in Australia, a young Japanese woman, caught smuggling drugs, was given an interpreter who didn’t understand her, so what hope did she have of defending herself?

Assuming a neo-nazi did go to the aid of a gypsy, then the same criteria for justice would apply.

Regards, Paul.

Anonymous said...

Hi Paul,

The issue here is exactly wat anonymous summed up - an drunken idiot went wild with a knife in his nahd and is now being backed by lobbyist groups trying to prove that black is white. I have also noted that Jock had joined the British Army which is an interesting twist - i.e. that any sociopath can join the forces and become a hero for stabbing people rather than going to jail for it. Well, at least in this case the 'hero' is locked up away from civilised society. I would not him near my kids - would you?


Paul P. Mealing said...

Hi Martin,

Well I'm not sure I'd go to the aid of a gypsy in a foreign country, so, for that, I admire him. Frankly, I admire anyone who can do something that I can't, or wouldn't, do for lack of courage.

Regards, Paul.

Kat said...

Why is every single person in Bulgaria defending Andrea but in Jocks country so many people are accusing him and criticising him? Idiots.