A contrite and unusually cautious Derryn Hinch stood on the front steps of the Victorian Supreme Court contemplating jail after being found guilty yet again of contempt.
While the situation may be a familiar one for the former high-profile broadcaster and victims’ rights crusader, he says the circumstances are different from earlier convictions that arose from conscious flouting of court rules.
“The thing about this one is that I didn’t do it,” Hinch said on Wednesday.
“I don’t think I’ve done anything wrong.”
A few minutes earlier, Justice Stephen Kaye had found Hinch guilty of breaching a suppression order imposed during the notorious Jill Meagher rape and murder case.
The judge found Hinch not guilty on a second charge of contempt involving the publication of the same material.
The court heard Hinch posted information on his internet blog in April this year revealing Ms Meagher’s murderer Adrian Ernest Bayley had previous convictions, was out of jail on parole and was on bail.
The publication occurred on the day Bayley pleaded guilty to raping and murdering Ms Meagher.
Hinch also asserted that Bayley’s parents had warned the police their son was likely to attack a woman and that the police sexual crimes squad had twice asked the parole board to lock him up.
Justice Kaye said in his judgment that Hinch’s article had contravened the suppression order, frustrating its effect and interfering with the administration of justice.
Hinch’s lawyer maintained his client hadn’t known about the order when he published his article, that publication was in the public interest and that other media organisations had carried the same and more sensitive information about Bayley.
Outside court Hinch said he was carrying the can for the behaviour of the wider news media.
“I said from day one, I’ve been made a scapegoat and a whipping boy over this,” he said.
“It angers and puzzles me as to why the Herald Sun and The Age both printed the fact that they expected Bayley to plead guilty to the murder of Jill Meagher and were not charged.
“I’ve been convicted because in a blog … I mentioned parole.”
Hinch, who has previously been jailed for contempt, acknowledged he could again go to prison.
“It’s a real prospect, but I won’t worry about it until it happens,” he said.
“I’m gutted, it has hit me hard.”
In relation to the second charge, Justice Kaye said while Hinch should not have published the article in question, he could not be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that it prejudiced any future trial Bayley may face.
Hinch will be sentenced after Justice Kaye hears submissions on penalty on October 11.