Years of intense media scrutiny meant it was virtually impossible for Hey Dad! actor Robert Hughes to get a fair trial, his lawyer says.
Greg Walsh wasn’t impressed to wake up to the front page headline “Prey Dad!” on Tuesday morning with two of his client’s charges still being considered by a jury.
Mr Walsh’s application for the remaining charges to be dismissed because of the media coverage was rejected on Tuesday morning before the jury found Hughes guilty of one more count of indecency.
In total, Hughes was found guilty of 10 counts of sexually and indecently assaulting young girls by a jury over the course of two days.
Mr Walsh argued on Tuesday morning that media coverage had been “so extensive and so pervasive” that it would have been impossible for a juror not to have viewed any of the stories.
Judge Peter Zahra said the jury had been properly instructed to ignore such reports and that they had proved to be very diligent.
However, he did criticise much of the reporting of the verdict, saying it had been “emotional and inflammatory”.
A potentially prejudicial article in the female blog Mamamia was just one of the pieces of reporting that was criticised in the court during the trial.
Judge Zahra indicated during the trial that he intended to refer the matter to the Attorney-General.
And a regular feature of Mr Walsh’s cross examination of one victim was the fact that she had done a series of paid interviews airing her allegations about Hughes.
It was after one of her interviews on a television program in 2010 that an investigation into Hughes was launched.
Speaking outside court on Tuesday, Mr Walsh said the coverage during the trial had been “a very unsettling feature of this case”.
“Mr Hughes and his family have been subjected to really four years of vilification. That builds up an enormous prejudice … it is virtually impossible to get a fair trial in those circumstances,” he said.