2010 Palm Island Court House - Day 2
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.
We woke to soft rain, light winds and the sound of light planes coming in to land.
The lawyers and media started arriving clutching copies of the Townsville Bulletin and the Australian. The Australian in particular had a page which looked half full of photos – though I was not able to grab one to look at properly. Whilst the Store seems to have improved in quality and choice with the advent of a new manager I don’t think early delivery of the Australian is one of the innovations.
Well, the new detail I mentioned re yesterday was the stuff of headlines . Shock new evidence in Palm inquest John Andersen,Townsville Bulletin, 9/03/1010 Witness changes story: I could see Mulrunji Doomadgee’s ‘scuffle’ Tony Koch, The Australian 09/03/2010 and Key witness in Cameron Doomadgee death inquest says he was threatened by police officer, The Australian 09/03/2010
The hearing started at about . There was some discussion about some of the media reports and some clarifications from Counsel assisting – but as they referred to documents, and sub clause x of page y, it was impossible for me to follow them well enough to comment here.
Roy Bramwell was called back to the witness stand and Mr Devlin continued to go through the 45 minute audio tape of an interview with Inspector Kitching and ?, who were acting for the CMC on the morning of 26th November 2004 – before the autopsy results were announced to the people of Palm and there was the subsequent ‘disturbance’.
I appreciate the fact that Mr Devlin always refers to the ‘disturbance’ and not to the ‘riot’.
A key point which was returned to frequently was how
could have seen Hurley hitting Mulrunji when they were hidden by a filing cabinet. Roy said there was a mirror on the wall which was angled to show the corridor in which Mulrunji and Hurley were. When shown a photo of the room, with no mirror, Roy insisted that it had been there on the morning of the 19th. Roy
There was also a great deal of questioning as to why
’s statements, at approx 8:am, and on the 20 November and Roy 26th November 2004, and on the 19 October 2006 had some discrepancies. As well as appearing confused as to which statement contained what, also seemed to have different levels of trust in the interviewers, all of whom were police officers except lawyer Frank Shepherd, and all of whom were white. This lead to Roy withholding some levels of information. In particular, he did not include all the evidence about the mirror and seeing ‘kicking’, nor that Mulrunji seemed unconscious when dragged into the cell. Roy
I thought about how time seems to both race and drag in my life, irrespective of what the clock says.
It was very apparent from his body language that this is still a source of guilt for him as he was very close to Mulrunji.
After two hours of solid questioning even Mr Devlin occasionally got his references a little confused when asking questions and Roy appeared hopelessly confused as to which statement, when and what he was being asked and why they were not all totally consistent. I was certainly very confused myself and I am very sure that in the circumstances, my statements would also have been inconsistent and confused, regardless of any attempts to be a truthful witness.
Mr Zillman for Sn Sgt Hurley asked
about the role of Sgt Leafe and the lack of consistency about Roy ’s accounts of Sgt Leafe’s movements. He also wanted to know how ‘drunk’ Roy was on the 19th and 20th November 2004 for the various interviews which were being discussed. Mr Zillman challenged Roy ’s statement that he could not read. My impression was that Mr Zillman and Roy ’s ideas of being able to read were miles apart. Roy
Mr Zillman questioned
about his statement during the re-enactment on Roy 20th November ’04, that ‘he was kicking’. Did mean that Mulrunji was kicking to get up on his feet or did he mean that Hurley was kneeling on Mulrunji and Roy described this as ‘kicking’. Roy
said that it was Hurley kicking Mulrunji. Roy
I feel that I have not done justice to all the ins and outs of this long questioning period, 2 hours before lunch and a good half hour after. But the reality is that because the public does not know what point the lawyers are trying to make, it is very hard to follow the very detailed questioning – especially with poor audio tapes, and soft-spoken speakers.
Vincent Thimble was next called as witness. This was a big surprise. Mr Thimble worked as a police liaison officer and ambulance officer, on Palm, from the 1980s until 1998, and then continued to visit the police station fairly often. Mr Devlin asked him if he was familiar with the day room in the station and also with a mirror in the police station. Vincent said yes and proceeded to describe a mirror in virtually the exact place described by Roy Bramwell. He said that it was positioned so that officers in the day room could see along the corridor leading to the cells.
This was sensational as Vincent said that two people had come that lunch time and asked him if he would come and testify about the mirror. He agreed. He could not point out who the people were. in the courtroom and did not know who they were.
Some light relief was then supplied by Lance Poynter who laughed when Mr Devlin called him a career criminal. Lance admitted to be in and out of police stations, because of criminal activities. He said that he definitely remembered two mirrors in the corridor leading to the cells. However, one of the lawyers then stated that Lance had not been charged, on
, between 1997 and 2005., the inference being that his recollections were not within the necessary date of November 2004. Palm Island
Note: Lance is one of the four men declared ‘Not guilty’ of rioting as mentioned in yesterday’s post. Sadly, he has been in prison again since 2007.
My feelings after the two days of evidence gathering and testing on Palm were that Mrs Sibley and Roy Bramwell came across as credible witnesses in the circumstances. In spite of getting confused about the various statements and when they were signed and in spite of Roy admitting to being drunk, both Mrs Sibley and Roy were solid about the events which they had witnessed around the hour during which Mulrunji died. Mrs Sibley did not waver about what she saw.
did have some discrepancies but his explanations were surprisingly convincing and I thought about the sobering effect of finding that your best friend had just died in very surprising and suspicious circumstances. Roy
I recommend Jeff Waters piece about the evidence which is being surpressed and kept secret from the public – follow this link to Monday’s story.
Jeff has written Gone for a Song a very interesting book about the first inquest into the death of Mulrunji and then the second or continuation of the first under Christine Clements.
Tomorrow the hearing is in Townsville and the police witnesses will have their turn at being cross examined. It should be a very interesting day,