top of page


JUSTICE OR VENGEANCE ? A Prisoner of Politics: Nearly 25 Years After Unsafe Verdict Mr Phuong Ngo received a life sentence in 2001 for the murder of Labour politician, John Newman seven years earlier. Phuong Ngo was arrested after a coronial enquiry, and then 3 trials, with the first aborted, the second inconclusive with a hung jury, and convicted in the third. An appeal to the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal was denied, as was an appeal to the High Court, but a Four Corners programme sympathetic to Phuong Ngo, resulted in a judicial enquiry that warmly endorsed the life sentence and was critical of the behaviour of Phuong Ngo’s supporters. Phuong Ngo has not shown remorse or regret, and has consistently denied committing the crime, and has been 24 years in gaol. The question of guilt or innocence has divided good people of experience, knowledge and character, and is a legal minefield that the writer prefers not to enter deeply. The fitness of the sentence is open to question on multiple grounds. Under S61 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 NSW, a court is to impose a life imprisonment for murder if the court is satisfied that the level of culpability in the commission of the offence is so extreme that community interest in retribution, punishment, community protection and deterrence can only be met through the imposition of this sentence, and Judge Dunford felt compelled on these grounds to impose a “For the Term of his Natural Life” sentence. At the same time, he expressed regret that a long sentence with parole was not available, and the prisoner’s good conduct in the community and help to fellow prisoners could not alter the sentence. Conviction was based crucially, on the evidence of 2 alleged witnesses, T & N, who were granted immunity and who later were shown to be liars in a separate case. The first trial judge told the jury to start with the principal offender and only if they found him guilty, to proceed with the others involved, but this was not followed in trial 3. The third trial judge considered the main motivation was naked political rivalry for the lower house seat occupied by Mr John Newman. But evidence about this provided by Mr Della Bosca and Ms Reba Meagher is conflicting and suggests the possibility that Mr Phuong Ngo believed Mr Newman was about to lose his preselection for the 1995 election, in which case, no motive to kill Mr Newman would exist, and the reason for a true life sentence – blown away. NSW is unique in the area of mandatory sentencing compared to the other states. A Criminal Case Review Commission exists in the UK, Canada, New Zealand and Norway to provide a specialist independent mechanism to revue convictions when concerns still exist after all appeals have been heard. Our NSW Sentencing Committee remains unimpressed. Newcastle University legal department considers that the State legislation may breach Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, signed and ratified by Australia. Dr Mac Halliday 2023 (copyright)

Contact Michael Daley
NSW Attorney General

A Plea for Clemency




Screen Shot 2023-01-07 at 11.04_edited.jpg

My name is Dr Mac Halliday - a retired ENT surgeon (RPA & Macquarie Street). Despite being long in the tooth, I remain actively engaged in world affairs; from the injustices in the Middle East, to the unfair incarceration of Julian Assange and more recently the case of Phuong Ngo.

This blog is my small attempt to gather relevant information in one place to address what I see as a miscarriage of justice.


I wish to see the case reviewed by the NSW Attorney General - The Hon. Mr Michael Daley MP  - on the grounds of improper process.  The prosecution case for motive, on the evidence presented in the trials and at the judicial inquiry, does not stand up. This is not an argument for Ngo’s innocence, but an appeal for a review of his sentence. He has been through an inquest, a committal hearing, three trials, an appeal and a judicial inquiry and found guilty. Guilty or not, Ngo has been locked up for 25 years and the identity of the killer is still unknown. 


It is time for NSW to abolish mandatory sentences and to trust in the wisdom and experience of our judges, to honour our commitments to progressive human rights and build a judicial system based on justice not vengeance. A Criminal Cases Review Commission has been set up in the UK, Canada and New Zealand.

In light of Kathleen Folbigg's recent pardon, Phuong Ngo's case has more than a shadow of doubt.

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter


Thanks for subscribing!


Screen Shot 2023-01-08 at 8.20_edited.jpg
bottom of page