Wood was convicted in 2008 of murdering 24-year-old model Caroline Byrne by “spear throwing” her from a cliff at The Gap at Watsons Bay, a Sydney suicide hotspot, in July 1995.
Mark Tedeschi QC alleged that Wood killed Byrne over fears she was going to end their relationship and reveal personal and business details about his boss, stockbroker Rene Rivkin.
However days before her death, she had been referred to a psychiatrist by her doctor, who described her as “very, very despressed”.
Justices Peter McClelland, Megan Latham, and Stephen Rothman quashed Wood’s conviction, saying that suicide could not be ruled out.
McClellan said that although some of Wood’s statements and actions, before and after Wood’s body was found, raised suspicion, that he was not convinced beyond reasonable doubt that Wood had killed Byrne.
McClellan, Latham and Rothman were persuaded by Wood’s counsel’s case that Tedeschi had used speculation and emotion to gain a conviction.
Wood was originally convicted of the 1996 murder after a court heard that Byrne had been seen near Watsons Bay by three separate witnesses in the company of two men, one of whom matched Wood’s description.
Wood however denied he was there, and evidence produced seemed to assert that he had been at lunch with friends.
Wood, who worked as a chauffeur, then claimed he drove ex-federal Minister Graham Richards to an appointment, something Richards denied, before returning home and falling asleep on the sofa.
When he woke he was alarmed that Byrne wasn’t home, and was led by what he called “telepathic communication” to The Gap, where he and Caroline’s brother searched for her.
Wood claimed to have spotted her at about 1 am on the rocks below, although Bryne’s brother said due to it being misty and pitch black it was difficult to see the rocks let alone a body.
Police who arrived soon thereafter with torches also couldn’t see her. This became one of central point in the original conviction.
However, Justice McClellan called into question expert evidence which he said didn’t rule out the prospect of suicide.
“I am not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Gordon Wood murdered Caroline Byrne as charged,” he said.
Wood, who has been serving his sentence at Goulburn jail, will be released today.
Image via YouTube