Murderer to make sixth appeal

October 11, 2004 - 12:08PM

A deaf-mute man, jailed for the murder of a Melbourne socialite, will make Australian legal history today when he begins his sixth attempt to have the conviction quashed - 45 years after the killing.

At Western Australia's Court of Criminal Appeal, Darryl Beamish, 63, will again try to clear his name over the brutal murder of 22-year-old chocolate heiress Jillian Brewer, who was stabbed to death with a tomahawk and a pair of scissors at her Cottesloe unit in 1959.

It will be the longest interval in Australian legal history between conviction and appeal.

Mr Beamish was 20 when he was condemned to death in 1961 for the killing, before having his sentence commuted to life imprisonment and spending 15 years behind bars. He was released in 1977.

Supporters have long insisted Mr Beamish is innocent, and the infamous Perth serial killer Eric Edgar Cooke - who confessed several times to Ms Brewer's murder - was in fact the killer.

The appeal, due to run for five days, will rely on fresh evidence uncovered by Perth author Estelle Blackburn during the writing of a book about the case of another man, John Button.

In February 2002, WA appeal judges quashed Mr Button's conviction for the 1963 murder of his then 17-year-old girlfriend, Rosemary Anderson, and recorded Cooke as the teenager's real killer.