The Queen & Zak Grieve – Title and Key People
Examine the confronting case of Zak Grieve, a 19-year-old indigenous man convicted for a murder even the judge accepts he did not commit. To investigate this story, Dan moves into the Northern Territory town of Katherine, where the contract killing in 2011 of white man, Ray Niceforo – whose battered wife paid her son to murder him – has kept the locals talking ever since. Mostly, they talk because the one man who walked away from the plot, Grieve, ended up with the longest jail sentence of all of those involved. Grieve had initially agreed to take part but “chickened out” and wasn’t there when Niceforo died. As Dan gets to know the town and the key players, he unravels how Grieve ultimately fell afoul of what lawyers call the ‘common purpose’ doctrine and the NT’s much maligned mandatory sentencing laws. Dan also lays bare a cruel twist that the man who wielded the spanner that killed Niceforo got a shorter sentence than Grieve, while Niceforo’s wife, who paid to have him killed, received a fraction of Grieve’s sentence and will now be eligible for parole next year. As Dan pieces together exactly what happened, his journey will lead him to raise important questions: How could this happen? Is an innocent man in jail? If even the judge says that the law is causing injustice, how broken is the legal system in Australia’s far north?