I wrote the bulk of this post last week, when it became clear that Ewen Macdonald would be acquitted. I followed the case closely, but it was difficult not to. What caught my attention was not the sight of the Guy and Macdonald women crying in front of the camera every night, but the astonishing fact that the Crown didn't appear to have any strong evidence.
However, the sub judice rule meant I wasn't able to publicly comment until now.
It's commonplace for the police and Crown to get an ear-bashing whenever the accused person in a high profile case is acquitted. Sometimes it's deserved, but sometimes the jury just surprises everyone.
In the case of Ewen Macdonald the system has worked. The Crown put up a shoddy case full of holes and inconsistencies, but the jury weren't fooled.
The evidence put up against Macdonald was weak. It's all very well establishing a motive for murder, but motive isn't enough. The crucial evidence supposedly linking Macdonald to the crime scene was a pair of boots the accused was supposed to own. Boots that were never found. Boots that may have been chucked out years ago. Boots that left prints possibly too large to be those of Macdonald's.
Nobody should be fooled into thinking that the verdict suddenly makes Macdonald a saint, or some harmless salt-of-the-earth cockie. His earlier behaviour towards the Guys was appalling and inexcusable and deeply disturbing, and many people will remain convinced that a murderer has walked free. We'll never know whether Macdonald killed Scott Guy, unless there's an "If I Did It" book in the pipeline or a deathbed confession. I suspect Macdonald won't get the superstar treatment David Bain got when he was acquitted.
Some people will say the system has failed the Guy family, but those people should not blame the court system. They ought to blame the police and Crown for bringing a case that was always going to end in an acquittal and more pain for the Guy family.