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Beyond Reasonable Doubt – The Case of Ronald Ryan (1977)

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Off the record

Original classification rating: PG. This clip chosen to be PG

Clip description

There were finally three verbal confessions by Ryan (played in this re-creation by Bill Hunter) saying that he had shot the prison warder. None was signed by Ryan, who only signed documents saying that he would give no verbal testimony.

Curator’s notes

Why did Ronald Ryan, a seasoned criminal, suddenly feel the need to tell all to the police? Was he 'verballed’ as such unsigned confessions are called? These days 'verbals’ are virtually impossible as police have to record on video all interviews they carry out in connection with a crime, following extraordinary revelations of police corruption uncovered by various police royal commissions.

Criminologist Professor Gordon Hawkins presents a chilling case for doubt about the validity of the damning unsigned confessions of Ronald Ryan, but in the 1960s the public, and therefore the jury, would have been much more trusting of the police. Whether as a result an innocent man was hanged, there is at least a reasonable doubt, as Professor Hawkins so eloquently explains.

The simple but striking re-creations, well directed by Stephen Ramsey, effectively set the scene and lead us into the heart of the Professor’s arguments.

Thanks to the generosity of the rights holders, we are able to offer Off the record from the television program Beyond Reasonable Doubt – The Case of Ronald Ryan as a high quality video download.

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This clip is available for download for the limited purpose of criticism and review in an educational context. You must obtain permission from editorial@aso.gov.au for all other purposes for use of this material.

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This clip is available for download for the limited purpose of criticism and review in an educational context. You must obtain permission from editorial@aso.gov.au for all other purposes for use of this material.

Terms & Conditions

australianscreen is produced by the National Film and Sound Archive. By using the website you agree to comply with the terms and conditions described here and elsewhere on this site. The NFSA may amend the 'Conditions of Use’ from time to time without notice.

All materials on the site, including but not limited to text, video clips, audio clips, designs, logos, illustrations and still images, are protected by the Copyright Laws of Australia and international conventions. ALL rights are reserved.

You must read and agree to the following terms and conditions before downloading this clip:

When you access ABC materials on australianscreen you agree that:

  1. You may download this clip to assist your information, criticism and review purposes in conjunction with viewing this website only;
  2. Downloading this clip for purposes other than criticism and review is Prohibited;
  3. Downloading for purposes other than non-commercial educational uses is Prohibited;
  4. Downloading this clip in association with any commercial purpose is Prohibited;

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