One of Queensland’s most feared and revered Crown prosecutors will hang up his robes this week after an illustrious 40-year career involving many high-profile criminal case, including 79 murder trials.
Senior Consultant Crown Prosecutor David Meredith was one of the original members, and possibly the last, of the inaugural team of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) in early 1985.
Mr Meredith has been central to many of Queensland’s most prominent criminal trials, including the prosecution of Robert Long for the murder of 15 people in the 2000s Childers backpacker hostel fire, as well as Vincent O’Dempsey and Gary Dubois over the infamous 1974 slayings of Margaret McCulkin and her two daughters.
He was also lead prosecutor in the 2003 murder conviction of John Powers-Surrey for killing two neighbours and later dumping their dismembered bodies in suitcases, and the recent conviction of one man over the 2017 murder of Bruce Saunders and an attempt to dispose of his body in a wood-chipper.
Mr Meredith’s four-decades of dedicated public service was celebrated today in a ceremony in Brisbane’s QEII Courts of Law ceremonial Banco Court led by long-time colleague and current DPP Carl Heaton KC and attended by a who’s who of the profession.
They included Chief Justice Helen Bowskill, Court of Appeal President Debra Mullins AO, District Court Chief Judge Brian Devereaux SC, Chief Magistrate Janelle Brassington, Industrial Court President Justice Peter Davis, Parole Board Queensland President Michael Byrne KC, numerous members of the judiciary, DPP colleagues and former lawyer opponents spanning many decades.
Mr Heaton congratulated Mr Meredith on his 40 years of well-rounded and meritorious service as Crown Prosecutor of the State of Queensland, for his dedicated, tenacious, exceptional 40 years of prosecutorial excellence, as well as his caring, compassionate and heartfelt support of victims of crime.
“David has succeeded in achieving a long and distinguished legal career, marked by his conduct of many of the most notable murder trials that have been run before the Supreme Court … earning him the well-deserved respected standing of a leader, and role model, in our profession,” Mr Heaton said.
“The outcomes he has succeeded in achieving for victims, and their families, has brought to them the justice, and peace, that they deserve to receive.
“Equally his reputed kind and compassionate treatment of them has provided them with the necessary support, to understand, and endure the (criminal justice) process.”
Mr Heaton also paid homage to Mr Meredith’s laconic, self-deprecating sense of humour.
In one reference, he spoke of Mr Meredith describing his early prosecutorial life as the days of pursuing people over “under-sized fish” and “cockroaches in the bread”.
Another involved a time when Mr Meredith was under a heavy workload of high-profile cases under then DPP, now District Court judge, Michael Byrne and aired his vexation by walking into the director’s office and positing the question: “Are you trying to make me famous?”