Branded a cop killer, Roberts fights to clear his name

Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS

For decades Jason Roberts was branded as a double police killer but after Victoria's Court of Appeal and a second jury cleared him of guilt, he's now fighting to clear his name.

Wrongly jailed for the murders of Victoria Police officers Sergeant Gary Silk and Senior Constable Rodney Miller, Roberts has filed a damages lawsuit against the State of Victoria for the years he spent behind bars.

The officers were staking out an armed robbery target in Moorabbin in the early hours of August 16 when they were ambushed and killed by Bandali Debs.

A jury convicted Roberts alongside Debs in 2002, but the Court of Appeal quashed that conviction finding there had been a "gross and fundamental corruption of the trial process".

He was acquitted by a jury in a retrial last year.

Roberts is being represented in his civil suit by a team of three barristers, led by Chris Winneke KC.

In a claim filed in the Victorian Supreme Court on Friday, it's put that there were irregularities and disclosure failures in taking statements from first responding officers after the murders.

That includes instructions given to three police to deliberately omit parts of the dying declarations made by Senior Constable Miller about the description of any offender.

It also points to multiple statements being made by officers, with some original versions never disclosed and at least one that may have been destroyed.

Roberts also points to events in the lead-up to him being arrested and charged, including a claim by police to the media that a digital image of the face of "the younger of the two killers" was a major breakthrough that had been developed as a result of the investigation.

But the document notes it was actually a manipulated photo of Roberts taken directly from his driver's licence.

Lawyers claim the intention of publishing the image was to publicly implicate Roberts in the murders.

It's also alleged Roberts was repeatedly struck and assaulted by special operations police when he was first arrested and interviewed by officers in July 2000.

He was released but arrested again and charged with the murders a month later.

The claim alleges Roberts was wrongfully deprived of liberty for 5627 days including extended period of physical and social isolation in high security units, and that he suffered damage to his reputation, distress and psychiatric injury.

That does not include a six-year sentence Roberts received after pleading guilty to 10 armed robberies committed alongside Debs at the time of the murders.

He has claimed damages for medical expenses, economic loss including employment earnings and superannuation, and legal expenses.

There is also a claim for exemplary damages.

Roberts' legal team claim the misconduct of multiple Victoria Police members demonstrates systemic disregard for Roberts and rights to a fair trial, and deserves the court's disapproval and punishment.

"In relation to the assaults and batteries the conduct is an outrageous abuse of police power and deserves heavy condemnation by the court," they said.

Roberts is also seeking interest and costs.