Matthew Leveson’s alleged killer faces potential perjury charge

Michael Atkins and Matthew Leveson before Matthew’s disappearance in 2007. Photo: SuppliedMissing man Matthew Leveson’s alleged killer is facing the prospect of 10 years in jail for perjury after police combing the Royal National Park in Sydney’s south failed to find his remains.

Mr Leveson’s former boyfriend Michael Atkins, 53, led police to the area last week after confessing it was where he had buried the body in 2007.

The search was called off on Thursday but police said they would continue in their efforts to find Mr Leveson.

Mr Atkins was tried and acquitted of Mr Leveson’s murder or manslaughter in 2009.

As part of a deal struck with NSW Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton, Mr Atkins agreed to lead police to the burial site in exchange for an immunity from prosecution for perjury or contempt of court in relation to his evidence before a coronial inquest.

The prospect of a perjury charge was real because Mr Atkins had admitted to lying during his evidence at the inquest into Mr Leveson’s death.

However, that immunity was conditional on a body being found.

This leaves the door open to a potential perjury charge. If convicted, Mr Atkins faces a maximum of 10 years in prison.

A NSW Justice spokesperson said on Thursday: “There is no time limit on the indemnity. However, it can be reviewed by NSW Police at any time.”

Double jeopardy laws restrict the circumstances in which Mr Atkins could be retried for the murder of Mr Leveson and police would need to find “fresh and compelling” evidence.

This is not impossible but makes a retrial difficult.

Mr Atkins’ evidence before the inquest cannot be used against him because the Deputy NSW Coroner Elaine Truscott made a separate order preventing that evidence being used in any subsequent court proceedings.

The inquest has been adjourned until March 6.

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