Margaret Cunneen

Margaret Cunneen

Margaret Cunneen SC is an Australian barrister and prosecutor. She was born Margaret Mary Cunneen on 15 January 1959 at St. Margaret's Hospital in Darlinghurst, Australia, the daughter of John and Catherine Cunneen.[citation needed] Cunneen lives in Sydney, New South Wales. She has three sons.[1][2]

Cunneen grew up in the south western suburbs of Sydney, was educated at Santa Sabina College, Strathfield and joined the Attorney General's Ministerial Office in 1977. She received her law degrees from the NSW Institute of Technology and Masters from Sydney University became a barrister in 1982. She is currently Deputy Senior Crown Prosecutor in New South Wales and has held a commission as a Crown Prosecutor since 1990. She came to prominence when she prosecuted a series of highly publicised pedophiles and several notable gang rape and murder trials. Notable cases prosecuted by Cunneen include:

  • Bilal Skaf.[3]
  • Robert 'Dolly' Dunn
  • Michael Guider
  • Pedophiles, Colin Fisk and Phillip Bell
  • Rapist, Quoc Vinh To.[4]
  • The "K" Brothers
  • Michael Kanaan for the shooting of a police officer
  • William Matheson for the murder of Disney cartoonist Lyndsay van Blanken
  • The killers of Sydney solicitor Thomas Williams
  • Jeffrey Gilham, about whom the movie Blood Brothers, starring Lisa McCune, was made
  • Graeme Reeves (the so-called Butcher of Bega).

In October 2007 she was appointed as Senior Counsel after being turned down on five previous occasions and her peers at the Bar have elected her as one of 21 members of the Bar Council.[5][6]

In April 2007 The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Cunneen had been removed as prosecutor in the trial of an alleged gang rapist after all three appeal judges found there would be a perception of unfairness if she acted in the case.[7] This was because she had spoken publicly about the case, although without naming it and speaking only in reference to the 7 year delay in concluding it, during the Sir Ninian Stephen Lecture in 2005 at Newcastle University. Cunneen's lecture was described by Justice David Levine as "the most articulate commentary on the criminal justice system, in my opinion".[9] The decision to remove her was criticised by the New South Wales Bar Association,[8] however it was not appealed by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

In 2010, Cunneen as a private citizen, gave character evidence for Brett Stewart, referring to his having campaigned in New Guinea against violence towards women, in Sydney's District Court in his trial after an allegation of sexual assault. Stewart was found not guilty by the jury in under an hour's deliberation.


  1. ^ Barrowclough, Nikki (24 April 2004). "unknown". Good Weekend (Fairfax). 
  2. ^ Cunneen, Margaret (24 April 2004). "unknown". Letter to the editor (Daily Telegraph (Sydney)). 
  3. ^ Gibbs, Stephen (2 August 2003). "Rapist out of sight but not out of mind.". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 10 April 2007. 
  4. ^ Sutton, Candace (18 August 2002). "The woman who fought back for the victims". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2 October 2008. 
  5. ^ Jacobsen, Geesche (5 October 2007). "Silk at last as prosecutor convinces toughest jury". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2 October 2008. 
  6. ^ "Appointment as Senior Counsel". The Law Report, Radio National. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 11 April 2007. 
  7. ^ Jacobsen, Geesche (21 April 2007). "Accused rapist cleared after prosecutor barred". The Sydney Morning Herald: pp. 3. Retrieved 20 April 2007. 
  8. ^ "Colleagues defend barred prosecutor". The Sydney Morning Herald. 23 April 2007. Retrieved 23 April 2007. 
9. Sydney Morning Herald, Richard Ackland, 3.4.09 and see 30.9.05 "Cunneen struck nerve on process versus truth"

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