Parole Board Queensland (PBQ) has agreed to consider “additional material” in the first-ever court-ordered review of its refusal to grant parole to a convicted killer under the state’s ‘no body, no parole’ law.
PBQ Deputy President Peter Shields, in a decision on Friday, said the board would accept additional material in its latest review of a parole application by Clive Anthony Nicholson, who received a life sentence for the murder of his wife in 2006.
Nicholson was originally refused parole by PBQ on 13 July 2021 and under existing laws cannot be considered eligible for release unless he convinces the board he has satisfactorily co-operated in helping to locate his wife’s remains.
However, Brisbane Supreme Court Justice Peter Davis in December last year ordered PBQ to review Nicholson’s parole application.
The body of mother-of-one Julie 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 Nicholson guilty of Jodie’s murder, based on a prosecution case centred on a series of letters which he wrote to various people, including police, before he was arrested and charged with the 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, which 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 in December, set aside PBQ’s ruling to refuse Nicholson’s application and granted a fresh review for further consideration by board.
Mr Shields, in a decision published on Friday, said the board would accept additional material in its consideration of Nicholson’s application review.
“The question to be determined by the Board in this present application is … whether (Nicholson) has given ‘satisfactory cooperation’ in the investigation of the homicide offence to identify the victim’s location,” he said. “Whether the Board is ‘satisfied’ of satisfactory cooperation is a matter of judgement for the Board.”
Mr Shields said Nicholson’s present application contained “contentious material” relevant to assessing whether the information provided was credible.
“In the present application the contentious material … includes actual evidence provided by (Nicholson), either sworn or under oath, of how he disposed of the body of the victim in the seaway at Southport,” Mr Shields said.
“The additional evidence is contrary to the evidence deposed to by (Nicholson) on 6 June 2022, that he had disposed of the body of the victim at Cedar Grove.
“Therefore the additional material is relevant material to be considered by the Board, along with the material before the original decision-maker, as to whether the (Nicholson) has given ‘satisfactory cooperation’ in the investigation of the homicide offence to identify the victim’s location.”
Read the PBQ decision.