Padraic Murphy; 19/12/08; (3 Items)
A judge has overturned a coroner’s finding that Mulrunji Doomadgee died in Palm Island watchhouse as a result of three punches thrown by Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley. Although a jury last year acquitted Sergeant Hurley of manslaughter, a finding by Queensland deputy coroner Christine Clements that the death was a result of the policeman’s actions was being used by Doomadgee’s family as the basis for a compensation claim. Townsville District Court judge Bob Pack sparked outrage among indigenous groups yesterday by ordering that a new inquest be held with a new coroner next year. “I conclude the coroner’s findings are against the weight of the evidence,” he said. “The coroner was not obliged to refer to all the evidence. However, I think evidence supporting competing hypotheses was worthy of mention. It is not clear the weight of the medical evidence was understood.
Royal commission only route
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh should now establish a royal commission to inquire into the death in police custody of Mulrunji Doomadgee. Judge Robert Pack’s ruling yesterday that coroner Christine Clements’ findings, that Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley was responsible for the death of Mulrunji on November 19, 2004, should be re-examined by another coroner come as no surprise to anybody with the barest knowledge of this tragic case. Because of the disgracefully inadequate and shoddy “investigation” into the death in custody by Townsville-based police, several of whom were close friends of Hurley, Clements was presented with only half the truth. The police involved in the Hurley case have been investigated, but the results have not been released, even though it has taken more than two years. In that time, several have been promoted in rank.
Aboriginal leaders slam decision to re-open Palm Island inquest
Padraic Murphy; 18/12/08
Aboriginal leaders have slammed a decision to overturn a coroner’s finding that Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley was responsible for the 2004 death in custody of Palm Islander Cameron Mulrunji Doomadgee. District Court judge Bob Pack ruled today that the possibility of accidental death could not be excluded. Judge Pack delivered his decision to a near-empty Townsville court and ordered a new inquest. In September 2006, Christine Clements found Senior Sergeant Hurley, who was serving on the island at the time, had caused fatal injuries by punching Doomadgee numerous times. But a jury last year found the officer not guilty of Doomadgee’s manslaughter. Doomadgee’s death sparked widespread rioting on the island that led to arrests and the jailing of ring leader Lex Wotton.