But her research suggests it doesn’t work.
“To my knowledge, there has been no successful information on a victim’s remains from any of the no-body laws in Australia. No remains have been discovered to date,” Ruyters said.
Rather than bringing closure to families, Ruyters said, such laws in practice risk extending their trauma by “holding out the carrot” for murderers right up until their parole, potentially encouraging them to provide false information that sends investigators on futile expeditions .
Besides potentially wasting police resources and prolonging trauma for families, Ruyters said the law removes offenders’ ability to reenter society, which is “the whole purpose of parole.”
In the case of a wrongful conviction, Ruyters said, “they cannot possibly give the authorities any information”. She believes Keli Lane, who would remain in prison for another four years and seven months if she is denied parole in 2024, is among that cohort.
“There’s no evidence of a death, let alone evidence of a body. So it’s impossible for people like Keli [to reveal the location of remains] and certainly Lindy Chamberlain before her,” she said.
Besides Lane, there are a handful of other convicted murderers in NSW who may find any bid for parole complicated by the introduction of Lyn’s law.
James Hachem, 36, has yet to be sentenced for the 2019 murder of Samah Baker, for which he was convicted in July. Police believed she may have been in bushland near Goulburn, but a body was never found.
Robert John Adams will be eligible for parole in 2031 after he was convicted in 2017 of the murder of nurse Mary Wallace in 1983. Wallace’s body was never found despite extensive searches and Judge Richard Button said it was a “sad” abandoned” hope that Adams would ever reveal her whereabouts.
Dubbo man Raymond Roff was sentenced to a minimum of 24 years for murdering his love rival Alois Rez in 2013 and disposing of his body in an undisclosed location. Without parole, he will remain behind bars until 2045, when he will be 85 years old.
Professor Julia Quilter from the University of Wollongong’s School of Law said it was not clear what an accused person had to gain by cooperating, particularly if they had long maintained their innocence.
While she could see it being a way for the government to demonstrate “good intentions around trying to help victims,” Quilter questioned its utility beyond being seen to do something.
“It’s a very useful populist line, ‘no body, no parole,’ but how much of a positive effect it will have on families remains to be seen,” she said.
Ruyters said it was “hard not to conclude” that the legislation is more about politics “when you look at how quickly they jumped after the Dawson decision”.
Dawson will return to court for a sentencing hearing on November 11. By then, the new parole law in his victim’s name could have already been passed.
NSW Corrections Minister Geoff Lee will give the bill its second reading to state parliament on Wednesday, and with Labor backing the move in principle, the government expects it to pass as early as October.
On Tuesday, Labour’s correctional services spokeswoman Tara Moriarty said the change was “long overdue” and needed bipartisan support.
“Ore and their loved ones deserve all the support they need to lay their loved ones to rest,” Moriarty said.
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