Cessnock stabbing: Michael Vincent Scott's murder conviction appeal dismissed in Court of Criminal Appeal

Riley Dehn.
Riley Dehn.

THE man who stabbed Riley Dehn to death during a brawl at Cessnock in 2013 has failed in his bid to have his murder conviction overturned. 

Michael Vincent Scott, 45, had appealed against his murder conviction and subsequent maximum 24-year jail term in the Court of Criminal Appeal, claiming he didn't get a fair trial and the jury's guilty verdict was unreasonable and not supported by the evidence.

Scott and his then girlfriend, Haley Orchard, were involved in a fight with a group of people, including Mr Dehn, in the car park of the Cessnock Swimming pool in the early hours of April 5, 2013. 

The group had been "drinking and socialising" at a hotel and Scott had gone to a nearby park at about the same time to meet Orchard, who had been asked to leave the hotel.

The two groups came together and a fight broke out.

The Crown case was that Scott was carrying a knife, part of a multi-tool device, and at the start of the fight with Mr Dehn he produced it and fatally stabbed him. 

Scott’s case during the trial – held in March and April of 2015 – was that he was acting in self-defence. 

But the trial was not without complications.

It began on March 10, 2015, but after 11 days and over 850 pages of transcript, defence barrister, Robert Cavanagh, withdrew, citing an “insuperable ethical conflict”.

The trial later re-started, Scott was re-arraigned and changed his plea to “not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter based on the ground of self-defence”.

Scott was found guilty of murder on April 10, 2015 and later sentenced to a maximum of 24 years in jail, with a non-parole period of 18 years. Scott’s all-grounds appeal claimed Justice Helen Wilson’s failure to discharge the jury after his change of barrister and evidence about his bad character constituted a miscarriage of justice. 

He also claimed the verdict was unreasonable and could not be supported by the evidence.

The Court of Criminal Appeal disagreed and confirmed Scott’s conviction.