Darryl Beamish (born 1941) is a Western Australian who was wrongfully convicted of willful murder in 1961 and sentenced to hang. The death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment and he served 15 years.
Mr Beamish, a deaf man, was 18 in 1959, when the 22-year-old socialite and MacRobertson’s chocolate heiress, Jillian MacPherson Brewer, was slain in her Cottesloe flat by an intruder who mutilated her body with a tomahawk and a pair of dressmaking scissors.
His conviction for the murder in 1961 caused continuing concern in legal circles. An Australian Professor of Jurisprudence, Peter Brett, wrote a short book titled The Beamish Case, in 1966; arguing that the affair was a “monstrous miscarriage of justice”. (Beamish had narrowly escaped the gallows.)
Western Australian journalist Estelle Blackburn’s book Broken Lives, prompted an appeal by John Button. He and Mr Beamish had both been convicted of crimes committed by the serial killer, Eric Edgar Cooke, and to which Cooke had insistently confessed before his death by hanging. Mr Beamish’s conviction was finally overturned by the Court of Criminal Appeal in Western Australia on 1 April 2005, after five failed appeals in the 1960s.
Mr Beamish’s appeal was made possible by the successful appeal of John Button. His appeal judges’ decision was based on fresh forensic evidence established by the publisher of Broken Lives, journalist and Post Newspapers publisher Bret Christian. This forensic evidence also showed Cooke was telling the truth when he confessed to the murder for which Mr Button had been convicted. Prior to the court hearing the fresh forensic evidence abtained by Mr Christian, Cookes’ confessions had not been believed. Mr Button’s success opened the way to an appeal by Darryl Beamish, the appeal judges finding that in both cases the murders were probably the work of Cooke.
On 2 June 2011 Beamish was granted a A$425,000 ex gratia payment by the Western Australian government.