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Broken Lives - Estelle Blackburn

Broken Lives - Estelle Blackburn

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John Button and Darryl Beamish had lost all hope of proving their innocence until Estelle, a journalist with no legal training, came along and tenaciously searched out the truth.

Never giving up, she sleuthed and wrote the book over six years, then continued to campaign and work with lawyers and other volunteers over a further seven years to ensure Button and Beamish won the new Appeals her revelations gained for them.

John Button’s 1963 manslaughter conviction was overturned in February 2002, and Darryl Beamish’s 1961 wilful murder conviction was overturned in April 2005.

Never before in Australia has such long-standing convictions been overturned.

Both men – then 19-year-old youths – came close to execution. Beamish was condemned to death, but it was commuted to life imprisonment and he served 15 years. Button would have faced execution if the jury had brought back guilty to wilful murder. But it convicted him of the lesser crime of manslaughter and he was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment with hard labour.

Estelle’s 13-year justice crusade for justice won her is an Order of Australia for community service through investigative journalism, and the prestigious national Walkley Award for the Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism.

She also won WA’s Clarion Award for the most outstanding contribution to the profession and the Perth Press Club award for sustained excellence in journalism. She was named as one of Lotterywest’s 25 most inspirational Western Australians in Scoop Magazine last year.

Broken Lives won the national Ned Kelly Award for Best True Crime book and the WA Premier’s Award for non-fiction.

It reveals for the first time, the full life and crimes of Eric Edgar Cooke – including 12 assaults and attempted murders that the police didn’t want anyone to know about. They covered them up, never making a public announcement that Cooke had committed these along with the two other assaults and murders.

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