A champion teenage boxer who spent 13 years in prison for a murder he admits to another man has lost an appeal to clear his name.
Melbourne boxer Khalid Baker was on the verge of becoming a national hero in 2005 when he was charged with the murder of Perth man Albert Dudley Snowball.
His partner at the time, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the High Court of Appeal that he was the one who pushed Mr Snowball, 22, seconds before he fell four meters from the window to his death.
Khalid Baker is back in the ring after spending 13 years in prison for a crime another man says he committed
Khalid Baker was surrounded by disappointed supporters as he left the Supreme Court of Appeal in Melbourne on Wednesday
But on Wednesday, the same court ruled those admissions weren’t good enough to even grant Baker a retrial.
A confident Baker had entered the field beaming but left moments later a broken man.
“I just want to say that I respect the court’s decision. Not the result I wanted. I will appeal to the Supreme Court. I’m very disappointed,” he said.
Aged just 17 at the time, the man, referred to in court as ‘LM’, previously told 60 Minutes he was the ‘last person’ to argue with Mr Snowball before he climbed out of the window.
LM appeared in court last month to repeat his story after being forced to do so by the Supreme Court of Victoria.
Baker told a media package that he was confused by the court’s decision to deny him justice.
“We have a man who admitted to the crime. It’s been 17 years now that I’ve been fighting this case to clear my name. I’m an innocent man and I’m not going to stop fighting,” he said.
“This is just another hurdle that I have to go through and hopefully at some point very soon we’ll be in the Supreme Court and we’ll get this case overturned and I’ll clear my name one way or another.”
Justice Karin Emerton took less than a minute to deliver the decision in front of dozens of Baker’s supporters.
Khalid Baker outside the Victorian Supreme Court of Appeal on Wednesday.
Baker and Melbourne TV personality Eddie McGuire after Baker’s release from prison
“While we are satisfied that the evidence presented to this court is new evidence, we do not find the evidence to be compelling,” he said.
“More specifically, we do not find the evidence to be reliable, substantial, or highly probative of the main issue at trial.”
The judgment was upheld by Judge Emerton’s colleagues, including Mr Justice Phillip Priest and Mr Justice Richard Niall.
“In the circumstances there is no opportunity in the administration of justice to take the new evidence into account,” Judge Emerton said.
Last month, Baker’s ex-partner had faced the three “judges” armed with a certificate indemnifying him against self-incrimination.
LM told the court he was trying to break up a fight between another mate and Mr Snowball when Snowball hit him on the side of the face.
“What the hell are you doing mate,” LM told the court he told Mr Snowball before pushing him back with almost full force.
LM said he had no idea where Baker was during the fight and did not see Mr. Snowball climb out of the window.
But when he came out a few moments later he saw him lying on the path badly injured.
Mr Snowball had fallen four meters and died in hospital two days later from head injuries.
LM’s failure to see where Baker was at the time could prove crucial to the Court of Appeal’s decision.
On 26 May 2008, it was Baker who was convicted of Mr Snowball’s murder and sentenced to 17 years in prison with a non-parole period of 12 years.
Baker spent 13 years in prison before being released in 2018.
He has since maintained his innocence, unsuccessfully appealing to the Supreme Court of Victoria in 2010 and the Supreme Court in 2012.
In May, Baker launched another appeal in the Supreme Court of Victoria based on “fresh and compelling evidence” that it was his co-accused whose actions alone caused Mr Snowball’s death.
Baker hoped that LM would willingly attend court to confess to the crime, clearing Baker’s name once and for all.
Baker’s partner had offered to plead guilty to manslaughter, but the offer was rejected by prosecutors at the time because Baker refused to do so.
LM pleaded not guilty to murder and was acquitted by a jury.
Baker’s version of events was supported by three eyewitnesses at the trial, who claimed he “wasn’t even around when it happened”.
Khalid Baker with Faruk Orman, who was acquitted of murder and released from prison over the Nicola Gobbo scandal
Baker is determined to clear his name after spending 13 years behind bars
While LM could not be compelled to give evidence at Baker’s original trial, the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that it could now.
The court heard LM could be in breach of Victoria’s double jeopardy laws if the Crown Prosecution Service believes it has enough evidence to proceed with a new trial.
The law, which once said no one should be tried or punished twice for the same crime, was revised in 2011, opening the door for new trials to be ordered when there is new compelling evidence that a person previously acquitted of serious crime is guilty.
LM was acquitted despite evidence jurors heard he had told police in a recorded interview that he had ‘grabbed’ and ‘pushed’ Mr Snowball before he went out the window and ‘assumed’ he went out the window as a result of Push.
Baker’s lawyers claimed there was a substantial miscarriage of justice – one that cost Baker 13 years of what should have been the best years of his life.
In documents filed in the Victorian Supreme Court, Baker’s legal team said LM had admitted both having the final physical contact with Mr Snowball and that Baker was not involved in or near the final physical contact .
Since Baker’s incarceration, LM has given statements and done television interviews with 60 Minutes, The Law Report and The Project admitting he was responsible.
LM had told his friends at the time that he was the one who had pushed Mr. Snowball out of the window.
The man once known as ‘The Smiling Killer’ is back in the ring after spending 13 years in prison
Khalid Baker is determined to clear his name after spending 13 years in prison for murder
The window from which Albert Snowball fell in 2005
When Baker went to trial, none of the evidence provided by LM could be put before the jury and could not be compelled to do so.
The guilty pleas made by LM before the trial were ruled inadmissible, a request which was granted by the High Court.
LM’s evidence was judged critical by the Supreme Court of Victoria if Baker’s appeal was to be successful.
Prosecutors had opposed Baker’s attempt to bring LM before the court, arguing that the court had no power to compel him to do so.
The court heard that LM had told Baker he would face court willingly but changed his mind just days before he was due to appear.
On Tuesday, LM claimed he had acted in self-defence.
“Look what you made me do,” he said to his partner who had started the fight.
“A guy I was with on the landing, who I had just pushed, came out the window… fighting with Mr. Snowball.”
LM told the High Court he could not remember Baker being anywhere near the fight at the time Mr Snowball was pushed.
“I don’t remember Mr. Baker being on the landing,” he said.
“I have no idea where he was.”
The scuffle that sent Mr Snowball out the window lasted less than a minute, LM said.
Khalid Baker and today’s Allison Langdon
Baker and former Australian treasurer Josh Frydenberg
Khalid Baker is a man on a mission in and out of the ring
Since Baker’s release from prison, he has won each of his nine fights – seven by knockout.
Baker had left prison in tip-top shape after following a strict fitness regimen that continues overseas.
Sources say Baker has never used drugs and refuses to take a drink.
On the night he allegedly committed murder he was the designated driver and he hadn’t had a single sip of alcohol.
Those who know Baker say he has unfinished business after his dreams of representing Australia at the Commonwealth Games were dashed by his jail term.
Back then, Baker was in a similar position, having won nine straight races with his eyes on success.
“People always underestimated me when I was young,” Baker told this reporter in 2005.
“They said it would be nothing, and now I’m getting to a place that everyone is afraid of. They don’t want me to go where I want.’
Now training with Sydney’s Billy Hussein and Melbourne’s Peter Hatton, Baker is rumored to be considering a move up to the heavyweight division where he could face former AFL bad boy Barry Hall.