Matthew Donald Tilley launches appeal against conviction for cold case murder of Suzanne Poll

A man jailed for the cold case murder of Adelaide stationery shop worker Suzanne Poll has launched an appeal against his conviction.

Mother-of-two Suzanne Poll, 36, was stabbed to death while she worked alone at the Salisbury Sands and McDougall stationery shop during late-night shopping in April 1993.

After a four-week trial in late 2021, a Supreme Court jury took four-and-a-half hours to find Matthew Donald Tilley guilty of her murder.

He was sentenced to life in prison with a non-parole period of 26 years.

Tilley was not arrested until a DNA breakthrough in 2019, when police got a family DNA match through Tilley’s brother.

Police then obtained a DNA sample from Tilley via a takeaway coffee cup he threw away, which linked him to the crime scene.

The 49-year-old has launched a bid in the Court of Criminal Appeal to overturn his conviction on the grounds the trial judge misdirected jurors and gave an unbalanced summary of the evidence.

Marie Shaw QC, for Tilley, today told the court her client was not linked to the victim, apart from his DNA being found in blood at the crime scene.

“There is no other evidence connecting my client to Ms Poll,” she told Justices Mark Livesey and Sophie David and Auxiliary Justice Michael Buss.

She said the trial judge misdirected jurors about a conversation Tilley had with his girlfriend surrounding “extramarital affairs”.

The court heard Tilley’s girlfriend asked him if he had ever had sex with a married woman and he responded he had and the “husband found out and knifed her”.

But Ms Shaw said there was no evidence to prove Tilley was talking about Ms Poll because he never mentioned a name.

“The Crown used that to establish a link. Without it, they had no motive for my client to have anything to do with Ms Poll and nothing to explain the veracity of the attack,” Ms Shaw said.

Tilley court
Matthew Donald Tilley was charged over the cold case murder in 2019.(ABC News)

She said the prosecution also told the jurors “as a fact” that Ms Poll’s husband did not do it.

Auxiliary Justice Buss asked Ms Shaw what more the prosecution needed to put to the jury beyond the DNA evidence to prove its case against Tilley.

Ms Shaw responded that the Crown needed a connection between her client and the murder victim “beyond the DNA evidence”.

She submitted that once Tilley had been arrested, he told his brother he had nothing to do with the murder and did not know Ms Poll.

The court heard the trial judge directed jurors: “he certainly made denials … you can take this into account if you wish to do so”.

Ms Shaw said “that [direction] falls short” and the judge needed to say the accused had maintained his innocence.

The appeal continues.

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