December 5, 2018

Editor’s Note

Editor’s Note December 2018 – January 2019

By Nick Feik
 

In July 2016 I received an email from journalist Sam Vincent: “Have you heard of David Eastman?”

Eastman was convicted in 1995 for the murder of AFP Assistant Commissioner Colin Winchester, the most senior cop ever killed in Australian history. Eastman spent 19 years behind bars for the crime, which he consistently denied committing. In 2014 he was released when a judicial inquiry found he was convicted on flawed evidence. The judge was “fairly certain” of Eastman’s guilt, but nevertheless said that “a nagging doubt remains”.

A retrial was announced and, in June 2018 when the trial commenced, I commissioned Sam to write about it for the summer issue. A gripping true-crime story, it would be perfect end-of-year reading.

Sam spent the best part of six months observing the trial. The prosecution cross-examined 127 witnesses; the transcript ran to 5000 pages. The story was both labyrinthine and thrilling.

Closing arguments began in October, and in November the jury was sent out to consider the verdict – eight days before we went to press. The timing was perfect! Sam had written a magnificent piece, and all we needed now was a jury decision …

Three days before our immoveable press date, the jury told the judge it was unable to reach a decision. The judge sent them back to try again.

At this point, your magazine’s editors started to sweat and, occasionally, cuss. Tuesday came and went. Wednesday. On the morning of the day we went to press there was still no verdict. All that planning, all that work …

“When will we have to pull the plug?” asked Sam. (At that point an alternative article was being edited, just in case.)

Then at 10.15am, mere moments before deadline, there was a verdict!

Reader, this summer issue is replete with great stories and essays, but in particular we hope you enjoy Sam Vincent’s essay, A Nagging Doubt. We think it was worth the wait.

 

Nick Feik

Nick Feik is the editor of The Monthly.

@nickfeik

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