Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Surprise award of a Griffith Electorate Australia Day Award for service

22nd March 2011

I was suprised and delighted when I realised that I had been nominated for a community service award in my electorate, Griffith and had been chosen to receive one of the awards.

Due to the Brisbane floods, the actual giving of the awards was postponed to 19 March. It was a great opportunity to give Kevin Rudd a personal letter asking him to get the Northern Territory Intervention changed. I asked him to reinstate the complete Racial Discrimination Act, make income management completely voluntary, and to change the whole thing from top down to a genuine partnership with local communities.

It was a good day and I was very impressed with many fellow recipients. I wanted to add a photo here but can't find how to do it.

We are still working on the police accountability issue which is a major issue in the overimprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The two deaths I know most about happened after the people in question had been arrested when other options were available.

The struggle for accountability re Mulrunji's death, the subsequent inquiry and other incidences of unacceptable behaviour continues.


Police are not accountable - we should all feel less safe

Media Release: Australians for Native Title & Reconciliation (ANTaR) Qld
14 March 2011

Police are not accountable – we should all feel less safe.
“Queenslanders are shocked that those responsible for the botched investigation into the death of Cameron Doomadgee have not been held accountable and will not be appropriately disciplined” Kitty Carra, President of ANTaR Qld said today.

"It is a stain on Queensland’s reputation and is a very serious issue of accountability," She said.
"The fact that a perfectly healthy man died within two hours of arriving at the police station’ is shocking.”

"We all have the right to expect that the police would have carried out a thorough, impartial and rigorous inquiry. The same level of inquiry which they would have carried out if it had been the police officer who died of massive injuries, not the arrested Aboriginal man."

She said events this week had demonstrated very clearly why everyone should be concerned about what happened seven years ago on a remote island to a man we did not know.

"We should care because a lack of accountability undermines any institution and makes it difficult for those who do the right thing, the ethical thing, to act against those few people who don’t.”

ANTaR Qld member Monique Bond said Palm Island Mayor Alf Lacey spoke yesterday about the right of every Queensland person to receive justice and fair treatment, especially from the Queensland Police Service.
"He said the decision not to discipline the six police officers mentioned by the CMC is wrong and Commissioner Atkinson must act immediately to hold them accountable," said Ms Bond

For more information contact
Monique Bond on 0417 764 653

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Bob Atkinson’s culture of denial

The QPS has brought the culture of denial to a fine art – greatly helped by the Police Union.
This has been clear throughout the sorry saga of the inquiry into the death in custody of Cameron Doomadgee in November 2004.

It was probably clear during the first Inquest in 2005 and it was very obvious during the Second Inquest, which I attended. My notes record my amazement at the litany of inadequate inquiries, police investigating their friends, superior officers not asking for timely reports. Meanwhile the Commissioner continued his public statements that he had ‘full confidence’ in his officers. I never heard that he wanted to get the truth of what happened – nor that he wanted justice for the Doomadgee family.

This March I attended the third Inquest and the shameful twists, and changed statements (some surely are perjury) the collusion, the misguided loyalty continued. Again the Commissioner was still confident in his officers .

On 14th June the CMC report was published and Chair Martin Moynihan clearly identified the Commissioner, Bob Atkinson as the person responsible for the Queensland Police Service. He is therefore responsible, during his ten year stint as Commissioner, for the growth of the culture of denial, of frequent refusals to admit to faults, of the QPS's self-protecting attitude.

If I had not sat through two of the three inquests I would not be so confident that my opinion is valid. But I saw and heard police officers repeatedly stating that they knew something happened in a particular way, not because they saw it happen but because Sn Sgt Hurley, told them so and that is good enough for them. However, when an Palm Island man says that he saw and heard something happen, that is not believable because it reflects badly on Hurley.

What does Bob Atkinson do after the clear evidence of the coronial inquiries and the CMC report? He continues to deny the problem exists. He says that everything is better now.

Everything cannot get better until the truth of what happened in 2004 at the Palm Island watch house is established as clearly as is now possible. That includes the question of collusion amongst certain officers, and the possibility of 'lying' to the inquest - which I believe is the same as perjury and therefore a very serious offence.

I would like Commissioner Bob Atkinson to bite the bullet and effectively discipline the few police officers who have not done the right thing. He should acknowledge that there have been faults and say how he has dealt with them.
If he does this he will strengthen the many police officers who work tirelessly and fairly for all of us.

So do the right thing Commissioner. Show us that you are capable of turning round the corrosive culture of denial in the Queensland Police Service.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Police Officers must be held accountable for their actions: charges must be laid after the findings of Mulrunji Inquest 14 May 2010

Monique’s suggestions after reading Coroner Brian Hine’s Findings:

That appropriate charges and disciplinary action be taken against Inspector Hurley
· for his arrest of Mulrunji,
· for his assault on Mulrunji in the police station corridor, when Mulrunji was lying on the floor
· for failure to take proper care of Mulrunji when he went limp and before he dragged Mulrunji into the cell
· for his inhumanity in not responding to Mulrunji's cries of pain (clearly audible on the tape played on 11/12 March 2010 hearings)
· for his ‘lies’ as a witness in the coronial inquiry hearings

That appropriate charges be laid against all the police officers
who were involved in the ‘lack of transparency, independence and thoroughness of the investigations after the deaths in custody’.

That Commissioner Atkinson apologise to Tracey Twaddle, the Doomadgee family, the people of Palm Island and the Aboriginal Community throughout Australia, for not having acted swiftly to ensure a prompt, transparent and just inquiry into the death of Mulrunji in police custody.

The Commissioner also apologise for his repeated support of Hurley, even after it was clear that Hurley had certainly acted inappropriately and negligently, and possibly committed perjury.

If the Commissioner feels unable to act in this way, he should be asked to resign.

The Premier and Attorney General must have urgent talks with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders and relevant service organisations to discuss how to ensure that there are no more deaths in custody – shockingly there have been several more recently. If there are serious incidents involving police there must be a swift, transparent and just inquiry and disciplinary action taken against any people, regardless of their status, who are found to be at fault.


May 14 2010 Coroner Brian Hine’s Findings (which include undisputed matter from previous hearings in 2005 and 2006) Page & section numbers in italics

1. Mr Doomadgee (Mulrunji) should not have been arrested on 19th November 2004
Hurley arrested Mulrunji which goes against the Recommendations of the Deaths in Custody and also against laws such as the Minor Offences Act (not sure of correct name). The use of arrest as a last resort is often stated to be the correct procedure in any forum on how to reduce the over-imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

I do not remember seeing much discussion of any propensity to over-use arrest powers but I think it a real concern that Hurley, who has now been promoted to Inspector, said in the Coroner’s Court, under oath 12th May 2010
‘I do not regret anything. It is no use having regrets. I have arrested other people for the same kind of offence.’
These are the words I heard Hurley say in the court that day and the strong implication was that he will continue to arrest people for the same kind of offence.

That is, Hurley is prepared to go on arresting people for offences which clearly do not justify being arrested – this is particularly likely to lead to people protesting their innocence; then to the escalation of verbal and physical violence. The police officer will be in a position to say that he has been assaulted but the person being arrested will find it hard to have his side of the story heard.

2. That Hurley has a propensity to react physically
As a result of the death of Mulrunji, subsequent to his arrest by Hurley
· it is on public record that hours of recorded interviews with Hurley exist, which the Police Commissioner fought in court to have suppressed, and which I think it is fair to conclude, contain material which is negative about Hurley and possibly about others too
· four incidents on Palm Island which were discussed in the 2006 inquest hearings,
· plus the Ian Conway Incident, suppressed by Coroner Hine on 12 March 2010, but now made public in the findings

P 67 183. As a result, there is uncontested evidence before the Court of previous instances during the two years Sn Sgt Hurley was stationed on Palm Island in which he accepted in evidence that he responded physically when he was confronted physically or with verbal disrespect. Hines Findings May 14, 2010

Such a propensity was likely to cause a significant number of incidents which would almost certainly lead to charges of assault, not against Hurley but against the person who had treated him with disrespect.

On November 19th 04, it lead to Mulrunji , being arrested and forcibly placed in a police wagon, forcibly removed from it and, after Doomadgee had punched Hurley, Hurley punched Mulrunji as he was lying on the ground but these injuries did not cause his death.

p73 202. There were subcutaneous bruises and injuries to the area above Mulrunji’s right eye, forehead and back of the neck, left index finger knuckle, right little finger, bruising around the rib fractures and the right side of the jaw. Although the injuries to the face were consistent both with contact during a fall or during an assault, they could not have occurred at the same time as a fall, if the fall had caused the fatal injuries. These are unexplained signs of violence, with Hurley being the only possible perpetrator. Hines Findings May 14, 2010

However, these injuries are not the cause of death.
P 37 107. The DSC found 35: Both autopsies concluded that the cause of death was intra-abdominal haemorrhage, due to the ruptured liver and portal vein.
The consensus of medical opinion was that severe compressive force applied to the upper abdomen, or possibly the lower chest, or both together, was required to have caused this injury. Hines Findings May 14, 2010

2. That it is now impossible to establish whether Mulrunji’s death from strong force applied in his upper abdomen was caused deliberately or accidently by Hurley.

Police officers present at the police station during the vital 30 minutes discussed what they would say.

P 122 334 ...fact that the fact finding process has been substantially compromised and rendered more difficult by the unsatisfactory state of the investigation which was conducted into the death of Mulrunji Hines Findings May 14, 2010

P122 335. There has been extensive evidence about, and much has been said of, the flaws of the QPS investigation into this death, in terms of transparency, independence and thoroughness. Hines Findings May 14, 2010

3. That police culture results in loyalty to fellow police officers above their duty to the Crown and to the public.

P 130 341
Both police officers (Sgt Leafe and Constable Steadman)conceded that this was the first and only time they had assisted the defence, and that it had occurred because Mr Hurley was a police officer. Hines Findings May 14, 2010

Hurley’s friend, D Sgt Robinson believed that Hurley told him the truth about Barbara Pilot.
p130 from 340 His (D Sgt Robinson)"investigation" into the Barbara Pilot incident was superficial, biased, and misleading. His conclusion that the complaint was "fictitious"197 (ie. imaginary: not real.198) was dishonest, and flew in the face of the objective evidence.


There are too many tragedies flowing from the arrest and death in custody of Mr Doomadgee - his family have asked that he be known as Mulrunji until they feel it is the right time to resume his  full name.
  • the death of a fit man in his mid-thirties, his life cut-off suddenly and brutally
  • the loss of the son, husband, brother,father, community member of Palm Island 
  • the grief and trauma the sudden, unexplained death caused his family, the Palm Island community and the whole linked Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island community
  • the angry and quite physical reaction of Palm Island community members to the bald statement of the autopsy results - with no support offered to the family, the council and the community
  • the panic by the police, the still unexplained fire which burnt the police station and also the fire in Hurley's quarters -which lead the illegal declaration of a state of emergency and the arrival of SERT troops on the island 
  • the freezing of any but police movements to the island so that there was no milk, bread and other necessities available to the 3000 Palm residents
  • the storming of private houses, in the early morning by balaclava hooded, non-identifiable police officers armed with tasers and guns who held guns to the heads of terrified residents, including in the front of their children
  • Police officers apparently had 'lists' of people they were looking for - some of whom could not possibly have been involved as they were in prison on the mainland
  • the subsequent charging of about 30 people and the very heavy bail conditions and then sentences imposed 
  • the suicide of Mulrunji's teenage son , despairing of obtaining any justice for his father
  • the trial, after three years' stressful waiting of four men who had dared to plead 'not guilty' to charges of inciting and abetting the alleged 'riot' and their eventual acquittal.
  • The suicide of Mr Nugent, in mysterious circumstances, one of the witnesses of the events in the police station on 19th November 2004
  • The jailing of Lex Wotton in spite of evidence from some Police that he had done a great deal to quieten the crowd and to help to evacuate police if that was what they wanted.
  • the international damage to the reputation of Australia flowing from is seen as a gross miscarriage of justice after the inquiries, inquests and trials coming after Mulrunji's death.
Until there is a real change of heart, a real change of leadership and a real comittment to stamp out racism and unacceptable behaviour throughout the police force these incidents are going to continue. 
There also needs to be an equal comittment to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders and communities and community service organisations to improve the social determinants of culture, health, education, housing and employment.

If you want suggestions for action go to www.antarqld.org.au website  and email:project10percent@gmail.com for more ideas and to offer your skills, time and financial support.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. We can and must all work together on this.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

look out for Coroner's report on Mulrunji Inquest Friday 14 may

Coroner Brian Hine will start delivering his report at about 9:30 tomorrow, at Court 3, Townsville Courts.

Some of his findings should be on the news. The full text should be at http://www.courts.qld.gov.au, coroners court, Findings, by mid-afternoon.

I should have some comments and suggestions for action, by mid- late afternoon.

Meanwhile you might like to check out Ian Curr's comments on http://workersbushtelegraph.com.au

Let's hope we finally have some truth about what really happened on the 19th November and  subsequently.  We may also have some comments on the suppressed evidence which Jeff Waters and others have written about.

Talk soon,

Sunday, March 14, 2010

12th March 2010 Townsville District Court - Day 5

Palm Island – 2nd Inquest re the death of Cameron Doomadgee, referred to as Mulrunji at his family’s request

12th March 2010 Townsville District Court -  Day 5
These are my impressions from talking with various community members and sitting, listening and watching, in the Court room – I cannot always catch what is said.

Mr Boe resumed interviewing Sn Sgt Hurley. He focussed on the issue of Mulrunji’s six distinct calls from the cells, over about 30 secs. Hurley insisted that he had heard nothing, even though the calls are recorded on the audio tape.  Hurley also stated that he normally hears calls from the cells, and that he responds to them. Hurley stated that, if he had heard Mulrunji or Nugent call out, he would have responded.
Mr Boe asked about the events of 20th November. Was it possible that Hurley had overheard or seen the statements and re-enactments being doing that morning. Hurley said that the only memory he has of that day is of sitting in his office and of doing the re-enactment.
Hurley said that if he had known the medical evidence he would  have left some room for an accidental injury in his account.

Note: Hurley said virtually the same thing when Mr Boe brought up the ‘Barbara Pilot Incident’ . Hurley denied running over her foot – but the medical evidence showed that the foot had been run over. so twice Hurley said that if he had known the medical evidence he ‘would have left some room for an accidental injury in his account...’

Mr Boe also asked about the only two items added into the re-enactment (see Mr Devlin’s questions the day before) could Hurley have been told of, or overheard Roy Bramwell’s evidence. Hurley absolutely denied it.
Mr Boe  said Detective Sgt Robinson, asked Hurley only two questions during the interview, 1) did Hurley get any injuries?, No   2) did you fall on top of him? No, I landed to the side of him, on the lino
Mr Boe suggested that the re-enactment left no opportunity for Hurley to have accidentally applied force. Hurley did not answer.

Mr Boe also asked about the relationship of Hurley and D Sgt Robinson. As colleagues and the two longest serving, senior officers, they saw each other regularly and could be called friends. Robinson had been told to investigate several complaints against Hurley in the past and had suggested to senior officers that this was inappropriate giving their relationship. Hurley had also raised the issue. Senior officers in Townsville over-ruled these concerns. They also included Robinson in the Investigating Team after Mulrunji’s death.

Hurley agreed that the Death in Custody should have been treated as a crime scene and that the total area from the police wagon up to and including the cell should have been secured. He said he had only thought of the cell as being the crime scene.

Mr Boe asked Hurley if he had anything to say to the family.  Hurley offered his sincere sympathy and sorrow for the angst they have suffered.
Mr Boe asked if Hurley regretted anything. Hurley said there was no use regretting things done in the past. He has arrested people for similar offences.
This was a pretty provocative response. Coroner Clements specifically stated that Mulrunji should not have been arrested – the offence could have been dealt with without arrest. From the Deaths in Custody Recommendations onward, there has been a focus on minimising arrests. My understanding is that arrest is meant to be virtually a ‘last resort’. Sn Sgt Hurley does not seem to have accepted the Qld Police policy on this. Perhaps this issue needs to be looked at further.
Queensland Government policy is to reduce the over-imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. The question of why people are arrested might be a great place to focus on.

Mr Davis, for Attorney General, started by going over some facts. Hurley has been acquitted by a Jury of manslaughter. When giving evidence at the trial, Hurley never contested the medical evidence. Hurley agreed.

Mr Davis went through Hurley’s re-enactment . On the one hand Hurley says he has no memory of what happened between going through the door into the police station. On the other hand, he took part in a re-enactment in which he clearly qualifies areas or actions about which he is unsure. So it can be assumed that the things he does not qualify are things he does remember.
The following are not exact words, but as close as I could get them. Tone is reasonably accurate.
Hurley: the re-enactment is not a true record as I obviously somewhere had contact with Mulrunji.
Mr Davis: That is based on the assumption that you are telling the truth and you did not apply force after the force.
Mr Davis:  You have accepted that you must have accidentally fallen on Mulrunji with such force to cleave his liver.  
Hurley: Some part of my person must have come into contact with Mulrunji, Yes.
Mr Davis: Contact quite violently, so violently that his liver has been split. So you cannot give evidence that you came into contact with Mulrunji because you can’t remember.
So you came into contact with Mulrunji with such violence that his liver was pushed against his backbone and  almost cleaved in two and you missed this. You get up actually believing that you never came into contact with Mulrunji at all.
Sn Sgt Hurley: Yes
Mr Devlin, Counsel Assisting
Summing up Sn Sgt Hurley was the only person in physical contact with Mulrunji, (except for Sgt Leafe helping to drag him into the cell.
Hurley did not see any sign of injury on Mulrunji when he arrested him. Hurley did not hit or punch him. 
Medical evidence about Mulrunji includes damage to his right eye, cheek and jaw, four fractured ribs, liver cleaved in half and portal vein ruptured.
Hurley cannot explain the injuries. He denies Roy Bramwell’s evidence of seeing what appear to be three punches. He denies responsibility for the death of Mulrunji.
Hurley: I accept the medical evidence. I accept that no-one else was in a position to inflict these injuries.
Mr Kent, for Attorney General  cross-examining Police Liaison Officer (PLO) Bengaroo PLO  Bengaroo had difficulty in following the questions put to him. He was obviously extremely nervous and when asked a question, often replied on a different topic.
Bengaroo  was asked to listen to a recording of his evidence on 20th November as to what had happened.  Part of it included ‘Chris fell on him, Chris fell on him, I think he flopped to the floor...  Chris was struggling to pick him up ‘
Mr Kent then asked Bengaroo about this evidence. In particular he asked about Bengaroo’s comment that he did not want to look at what was happening in case he might be blamed.
Mr Kent; Who would blame you?  Bengaroo: the family and others
Mr Kent: What for? Bengaroo: it was because of me he was arrested...
Mr Kent  asked if Bengaroo was concerned that Mulrunji in the police station, Bengaroo: No.
Mr  Kent, were you concerned that he was active and struggling then suddenly inactive when being dragged down the corridor? Bengaroo: No. He was struggling to get up.
Mr Davis, Have you eve said that before?  Bengaroo, No
Mr Davis, . Bengaroo had known about the medical evidence since 26th November. He was interviewed nearly three weeks later by the CMC, 8th December 04. Had he thought, during that time about how Mulrunji had died? 
Bengaroo: No, he didn’t think about it. The CMC had asked him, did Hurley fall same time as Mulrunji? Bengaroo: Same as Mulrunji.
Mr Kent, was Hurley any time on top of Mulrunji, Bengaroo: No
Mr Kent, Did Hurley assault Mulrunji after the fall
Bengaroo: No, I can’t recall    No, I just seen Hurley drag him to the cells.
Mr Kent, The first time you mentioned that they had tripped on the step was on 3rd August before Coroner Christine Clements. ......I’m not clear what Bengaroo answered.
Mr Kent, before the trial of Sn Sgt Hurley for manslaughter you gave a statement which you signed.  Bengaroo: Yes.
Mr Kent, Are you really not sure what happened. Bengaroo: No, I am sure
Mr Kent, Nothing you saw could possibly explain those injuries.  Bengaroo: No, they couldn’t.
Mr Zillman, for Sn Sgt Hurley, You did not see Hurley injure, strike, harm Mulrunji.
Bengaroo: No, I didn’t.
Mr Boe for the Doomadgee family, Did you ever think you had done anything wrong?  Bengaroo: No I didn’t
Mr Boe, Why did you organise a lawyer.
Bengaroo: I didn’t. The Union organised it.
Mr Boe, Why were you nervous about the community reactions?
Bengarooo: Many times the community harassed him, when they thought that the police had treated them badly. Community members often swore at Bengaroo.
Mr Devlin stated that the evidence is that Bengaroo was absent from the police station for about 20 minutes before 11:00am as he went to the bank for money for a ferry fare for ? his fiancee, I think.
Bengaroo was unable to say exactly when he was away between 10:00 and 11:00 am on the morning of Friday 19th November 2004, the day and time when Mulrunji was brought to the police station, and died there.
Mr Devlin informed the Coroner and Court that there were 3? sworn, written statements from police officers all saying that there was no mirror in the corner – that is the one referred to by Roy Bramwell and Palm Island community members.   I did not get the exact details but I am fairly sure that it was all police evidence stating there was no mirror.
Mr Devlin  said he had received information from Detective Sgt Darren Robinson ‘s lawyer with an opinion from his doctor, that appearance at the Court would be deleterious for Robinson’s health. Mr Devlin suggested that there were ample written statements from Detective Sgt Robinson and that, subject of course, to the Coroner, Mr Hine’s, decision, it was not really necessary to have Sgt Robinson appear in Court. 
The Coronor so ruled.

I was one of many who were very disappointed. I saw Robinson apearing as a witness during the inquest in March 06, and then again in March 07, during the trial of William Blackman, Dwayne Blanket, John Clumpoint and Lance Poynter. They were charged with a serious crime: rioting to cause destruction and were acquitted.
I was looking forward to seeing Robinson cross-examined by Mr Devlin and Mr Davis. Many Palm community members were also very disappointed.
Mr Zillman for Sn Sgt Hurley called Mr Glen Cranny, Gilshennan and Luton, for cross-examination. They agreed with Mr Cranny is a partner in Gilshennan and Luton, that he was retained by the Police Union to act for Sn Sgt Hurley and that he was and is, Mr Zillman’s instructing solicitor. I hope got these formal relationships reasonably correct.They are gone through very quickly between people who know each other and know all the details. It is hard for a lay person sitting in the back of the court to pick it all up.

Mr Cranny agreed that he represented Sn Sgt Hurley, Sgt Leafe, Constable ?Tongs, Constable Steadman and PLO Bengaroo.  He spoke to each person, on their own, and got their version of events.
Mr Zillman asked Cranny about conflicts of interest. Cranny agreed that it is essential to avoid conflict of interest. He will only represent multiple clients if their versions agree as to what happened.
If their versions disagree, then they need to have different lawyers.
Cranny acted as lawyer for all five men until September 2006 when Coroner Clements report was published.  After that he continued to act for Hurley and the Police Union in-house solicitors acted for Leafe and Steadman. ? I don’t remember any mention of PLO Bengaroo.
Mr Cranny said that when Sgt Hurley was charged, the Police Union solicitors advised Leafe and Steadman not to co-operate with the Crown.
Cranny disagreed with this policy and told the Union solicitors so. He thought that it was in Hurley’s interests for Leafe and Steadman to cooperate with the Crown.
This is an example of why different representation might be needed. Was it in Leafe’s and Steadman’s interests to co-operate with the Crown?
There is of course, the question about why police officers, who are sworn to uphold the law could ever refuse to cooperate with the Crown. In fact Steadman stated that this was the first time in his career that he had refused to cooperate with a prosecution until ordered by the Commissioner to do so.
Mr Davis, for the Attorney General asked the Coroner if the non-publication order re a certain matter which was discussed in court yesterday, was still in place.
Mr Devlin confirmed exactly what was referred to. (I can’t tell you!)
Mr Zillman said that only minuted-cross examination was available and that it would be unjust to lift the non-publication order.
The Coroner said that he would leave it in place whilst he considered the matter. At least that is what I think he said. The Coroner does not speak into the mike and has a soft voice so it is hard to hear what he says..

I passed a note up to the Court asking them to make clear what the non-publication order applies to and what the effect is. After all, we have heard what-ever it was discussed and it needs to be made clear to us, in the public gallery, what we are not to do.
Mr Devlin then referred to the matter in question and told us that we are not to speak about it to anyone, nor to write about it whilst the order is in place.

ABC Journalist Jeff Waters, wrote an excellent book, Gone for a Song, which refers to the non-publication orders in great detail.
He has also written last Tuesday about this whole saga and has raised important issues.
see http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/09/2840386.htm - 39k - [ html ] - 9 Mar 2010   -

There was a considerable amount of difficult to hear discussion amongst the lawyers and the Coroner about submissions and dates.  I gathered that the parties represented now put in written submissions to the Coroner and have a certain sequence to follow, first Mr Devlin, then Mr Boe and lastly Mr Zillman (not sure about the others). Key dates seemed to be ist April and 13 April. 
There was also talk about Oral submissions.
I will try to find out if members of the public, interested parties such as social justice groups can put in submissions and on what basis and by when.
This will be in my next blog which I hope to get out by Wednesday 17th March.

I hope also to have some general overview of what transpired and what seem to be key points from this weeks cross-examination but you will have your own views and it would be interesting to read them.


Friday, March 12, 2010

11th March 2010 Townsville District Court - Day 4

Palm Island – 2nd Inquest re the death of Cameron Doomadgee, referred to as Mulrunji at his family’s request

11th March 2010 Townsville District Court - Day 4
These are my impressions from talking with various community members and sitting, listening and watching, in the Court room – I cannot always catch what is said.

Wednesday afternoon – 10th March
Sgt Leafe was in the police garage with Roy Bramwell when Hurley arrived with Mulrunji, PLO Bengaroo, Mulrunji and Patrick Nugent. Leafe had just asked Roy to come to the police station as Sgt Hurley wanted to speak with him about alleged serious assaults on three women on Thursday night/Friday morning.
Mr Devlin took Leafe his first statement of his movements from Hurley’s arrival in garage until it was established that Mulrunji had died in the cell.
It appeared that Leafe was busy opening doors and the cell, organising Roy to sit on the yellow chair (see the evidence on Days 1 and 2) and then eventually arriving at the corridor where Mulrunji lay on his back on the floor and Hurley was trying to pick him up by his shirt. Then Leafe and Hurley took a wrist each and dragged Mulrunji down the corridor to the cell where they placed him. Leafe had only been away about 10 seconds, yet in that time Mulrunji had stopped struggling with Hurley and was not moving. Leafe said Mulrunji felt like a dead-weight.
Mr Devlin: did you ask Hurley what had happened? NO,
Mulrunji was motionless and supine. You did not think there might be a problem? NO. Then the surveillance camera was switched on, Hurley told Roy to leave and Leafe settled down to deal with correspondence.
Mr Devlin asked Leafe if he had seen the tape of the cell and of Mulrunji lying writhing on the floor and heard the six cries for help in the first ten minutes of the tape. Leafe said he had on the day after the death.
Mr Devlin asked Leafe how he could have not heard the six cries for help. Leafe said he did not know but he did not hear them.
Once Leafe discovered that Mulrunji had no pulse, the ambulance was called and ambulance staff pronounced Mulrunji dead and took the body to the hospital. Leafe then settled down to normal everyday business.
Mr Devlin asked if Leafe and Hurley discussed what could have happened. Leafe said they did and that Hurley said he had landed beside Mulrunji so Leafe accepted this as fact.

Thursday morning –11th March
After further cross-examination of Leafe’s various statements, Mr Devlin asked Leafe why he had never mentioned to the CMC on 8th December, that Steadman had written notes on19th November.
Then Mr Devlin summarised Leafe’s position. He had been in a small police station during a death in custody, walking backwards and forwards through the areas involved but he had seen nothing, and heard nothing whilst Mulrunji was in the police station. Mr Devlin seemed to find this astonishing.
Mr Boe then took Leafe through the day of the incident again. His first action after the death was to phone his wife and to say ‘stay in the compound’, because he was frightened of community reactions. Then it was to phone Townsville superiors. The idea of securing the crime scene from the cell through the corridors and doors to the police vehicle did not occur to him (nor to Hurley) although he agreed that this is standard procedure on a suspicious death.
Mr Davis cross-examined Leafe re the basis of his certainty that Hurley had fallen to the side of Mulrunji. Leafe kept repeating that it was his belief that Hurley had nothing to worry about re the death as Hurley had fallen to the side of Mulrunji. However, Leafe had consistently and clearly stated that he did not see the fall so his only basis for the statement is that he believes it because Hurley told him so.
Leafe agreed that he had helped the Defence team of Sgt Hurley with some more precise information abut the length of time he was away dropping it from 10 seconds to about 6-7 seconds and that he had not volunteered that revised estimate to the Prosecuting team. He agreed that as a sworn police officer it is his duty to support the Crown’s prosecution case, not to support the defence.
In spite of all this Leafe stated that his belief in Hurley’s innocence did not affect the impartiality of his evidence. Mr Davis actually suggested that Leafe’s belief in Hurley’s innocence could have lead him to want to subvert the Crown’s case. Leafe denied it.
I am fairly sure that I heard this correctly. It was extraordinary. It made me wonder how to keep an organisation honest and true to its mission if its members put loyalty to fellow-members as a top priority.

PLO Lloyd Bengaroo was called as a witness. Mr Devlin asked Bengaroo about life as a PLO. Begaroo seems to feel PLOs are in a difficult position. They are not police and cannot make arrests but they can be blamed and picked on by the community. . He said that he deliberately did not look into the station as he feared he might be harassed if he saw anything wrong happen.
Bengaroo’s original evidence about the events leading to Mulrunji’s death were very similar to Hurley’s evidence, that is that Mulrunji fell on his back and Hurley fell beside, but not on him.. However, Bengaroo did use these words about Mulrunji after the fall, ‘he was flopping down’. Today he explained this as meaning that Mulrunji was trying to get himself free from Hurley.
In his re-enactment on 20th November 04, Bengaroo says ‘he flopped against the floor, Chris fell on him’.
Note: whilst Bengaroo was doing his re-enactment I noticed two people walking past in the background. This is important because Hurley was asked whether he knew about what Bengaroo said/did in it and Hurley said that all the potential witnesses were asked to keep apart – but some people were certainly walking past.
I felt sorry for Bengaroo. He had difficulty understanding the rather formal and wordy questions he was asked and he looked so alone.

After lunch, Sn Sgt Hurley was called. It was mentioned that his wife had just had a baby and that they would try to get his cross-examination done in time for him to fly home Friday arvo. I heard someone mutter ‘they weren’t so worried about our family’.
Mr Devlin went through Hurley’s first statement of the events when Hurley arrived at the station with Mulrunji and Patrick Nugent. Hurley was trying to get Mulrunji out of the wagon and he was resisting. He hit Hurley with a back-hander on the jaw. They continued to ‘tussle’ outside the wagon towards the entrance of the station, through the standard size door and fell on the floor Hurley to the left of Mulrunji and to the side of him.
Mulrunji was not moving. Leafe came back from opening doors and Mulrunji was still not moving so they took a wrist each and dragged him backwards along the corridor to the cells where they placed him. Mulrunji was still not moving: Hurley added today, he seemed very sleepy. Then Patrick Nugent was escorted to the cell and placed there. He was very drunk.
Hurley turned on the surveillance cameras, spoke to Roy Bramwell and sent him home, then settled to normal police work.
The tape was played showing Mulrunji writhing on the floor and six muffled calls were heard within 30 seconds. Hurley states that he did not hear them although he normally hears calls from the cells. He stated that if he had heard the calls he waould have gone to the cell. He did see the movement but thought it was natural movement during a drunken sleep. Hurley said he was concerned about Patrick who had not moved at all.
Hurley repeated several times that he thought that Mulrunji was very sleepy after the fall and did not speak so that Hurley assumed he was in a drunken sleep. His movements in the cell suggested that he was alright because he was moving around.
Mr Devlin asked why in Hurley’s re-enactment, Hurley had added two details which seemed to take in two items of Roy Bramwell’s re-enactment. 1) that he was trying to pull Mulrunji up by his shirt but the shirt kept tearing and 2) he was saying ‘Get up Mr Doomadgee’. Mr Devlin asked if Hurley had seen Roy’s re-enactment or been told by someone what was in it. Hurley said NO.
Mr Devlin also asked why Mulrunji was arrested. Hurley said it was for his abusive language and mouthing off, originally to PLO Bengaroo and then afterwards walking down the street, Mulrunji was mouthing off and swearing. He was charged with ‘Public Nuisance’. Mulrunji had never been arrested on Palm and Hurley did not know him or his name.
Maybe this is a clue to the high imprisonment rate of Aboriginal people. Mulrunji was walking down the street, swearing yes, but not menacing anyone and Hurley pulled up the car to arrest him. Mulrunji was loudly protesting his innocence when the wagon pulled up at the police station. He did not feel that he had committed a crime. Until, of course, he hit Hurley as he was pulled from the wagon. Apparently that was unheard of on Palm for someone to hit a police officer and Hurley was very taken aback.
Mr Devlin asked if Hurley, as Officer in Charge, had secured the crime scene. Hurley said yes, the cell was locked. Mr Devlin said the entire area from the wagon through the police station to the cells was a crime scene and should have been secured. Hurley agreed that it should have been done. It wasn’t.
Mr Devlin wondered why Roy Bramwell, brought in because of alleged serious assault on three women, and having also had a drunken fight that morning, still drunk, was told to leave the station, very soon after Mulrunji was put in the cells. Hurley said Roy was too drunk to interview and had a known address.
More cross-examination tomorrow. They think they will finish interviewing Hurley and then will interview Detective Sgt Darren Robinson, who has appeared a great deal in the previous inquest especially re other interactions of Hurley with community people.
Robinson was the detective who was charged with conducting investigations into three incidents. He also was one of the main witnesses against Lance Pointer, William Blackman, John Clumpoint and Dwayne Blanket all accused of a very serious offence; conspiracy to riot. I’m not sure of the correct name but it is a rarely used charge with very onerous penalties. The four men were declared not guilty by a jury
in Brisbane in March 2007.

As David Allen used to say ‘ If you have been, thank you for listening’. My thoughts entirely,