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Convicted killer wins bid for review of ‘no body, no parole’ refusal

A convicted wife-killer has been granted an application for review of a refusal to grant him conditional release because of Queensland’s ‘no body, no parole’ law.

Brisbane Supreme Court Justice Peter Davis today ordered that a Parole Board Queensland (PBQ) decision on 13 July 2021 to refuse an application by Clive Anthony Nicholson – who received a life sentence for the murder of his wife in 2006 – be set aside and a review granted.

It is believed this may be the first occasion on which a review of a ‘no body, no parole’ refusal has been ordered.

The body of mother-of-one Jodie Rose Nicholson has never been found after she disappeared on the Gold Coast on or about 15 July 2003.

In a Supreme Court trial in February 2006, a jury found him guilty of Jodie’s murder, based on a prosecution case centred around a series of letters which Nicholson wrote to various people, including police, before he was arrested and charged with his wife’s murder.

Those letters included admissions to killing his wife, disposing of her body in the ocean off Southport Spit, and of his concern for his then three-year-old daughter’s future welfare.

In August 2017, Queensland enacted a ‘no body, no parole’ law empowering PBQ to refuse parole to any prisoner until it was satisfied the convicted killer had satisfactorily cooperated in identifying the location of the victim’s body.

In January 2019, Nicholson changed his story regarding where he had left his wife’s body – telling police he buried her in bushland at Cedar Grove, 55km south-west of Brisbane.

He took police to the site, a private property, and it was searched using cadaver dogs, but no remains were found.

During Nicholson’s PBQ application a police detective submitted an adverse cooperation report in relation to the truthfulness, completeness and reliability of information or evidence provided by the prisoner in relation to the victim’s location.

“None of the information provided by Nicholson between 2003 and 2019 is considered significant or useful,” the detective’s statement said.

“None of the information … has resulted in any corroborative evidence to substantiate a site where the deceased’s body was disposed.”

Attempts by Nicholson to compel the detective to give oral evidence at his parole hearing were refused, with PBQ dismissing Nicholson’s application in July (2021).

Nicholson subsequently applied to the Supreme Court for a judicial review of the board’s decision.

Justice Davis, in a 26-page decision, today set aside PBQ’s ruling to refuse Nicholson’s application and granted a fresh review for further consideration by board.

“The case was argued on a narrow basis, namely whether five complaints as to the Board’s reasoning were made out and whether those complaints were material,” Justice Davis said.

“Four of the five complaints are made out (by Nicholson) and those matters are material to the decision.

“It follows that the decision ought to be set aside and the matter remitted to the Board for reconsideration.”

Read the decision.

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