Mulrunji Doomadgee tip-off spoils case

Jamie Walker;15/5/10; (3 Items)

The investigation into the 2004 death in custody of Palm Island man Mulrunji Doomadgee was stripped of credibility because of a “perception of collusion” between local detectives and the policeman who caused the Aborigine’s fatal injuries. But Queensland Deputy Chief Magistrate Brian Hine, delivering the findings of the third coronial inquest into the affair, found yesterday there was no evidence that Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley had meant to inflict the injuries that killed Doomadgee. The open finding on whether his death was accidental or deliberately caused by Sergeant Hurley dashed the family’s professed hopes to finally secure “closure”. Doomadgee, 36, died after he was arrested while drunk on Palm Island, off Townsville, on November 19, 2004, creating such outrage in the community that people rioted a week later.


Colluders should be weeded out: Doomadgee lawyer
Tony Kich & Jared Evans; 15/5/10; The Australian,; No Internet Text
Queensland Police should “hang their heads in shame” over the Coroner’s open finding in the death of Mulrunji Doomadgee, his family said yesterday.
The Doomadgee family’s spokesman and barrister Andrew Boe said decent police officers would be aghast at the conduct of Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley.
“(The Coroner) found that Hurley lied about those assaults and that Hurley colluded with other police in what evidence they gave to investigators,” Mr Boe said. “This amounted to a corruption of the evidence to such an extent that the coroner was not able to make a definite finding regarding Mulrunji’s death.
“Any police officers wishing to associate with Hurley’s conduct and his position, and the funding of his defence by the police union, should read this report and hang their heads in shame about what has been revealed. The police involved here are the miscreants who the service should weed out.”
Palm Island Mayor All Lacey said it was time for his community to move on. “We can never take away what happened, but the thing is now that we find the time to heal and help the Doomadgee family heal as well,” he said.
Mr Lacey urged Queensland’s Crime and Misconduct Commission to release its long-awaited report into the police conduct, which has again been delayed due to matters of “procedural fairness”. “I don’t know how many’ more excuses the CMC can put up,” he said.
Mr Lacey said the open finding was understandable, given the case’s long and muddled history. “I’m honestly certain the Coroner in his open finding has tried as much as he can to give a good and balanced opinion on the whole six years of this case,” he said.
Doomadgee’s partner, Tracy Twaddle, said rather than closing the book on the case, the open finding was “just another chapter”.
Although Sergeant Hurley did not attend the inquest yesterday, he was reportedly glad it was over. “I just spoke with Chris and he is relieved that this part of the saga is over,” said Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers.
“Some of the findings I agree with. I am surprised by some of the others. It is now time to move on.”
Queensland Police said: “We note the Coroner’s findings, and we are considering the recommendations.”
If Hurley had admitted at the start all the facts as he knew them, perhaps it would not have been necessary for his colleagues to think they had to protect him.
The police involved in this incident have forfeited their right to enjoy the trust of the public and should quit. Alternatively, Commissioner Bob Atkinson, who has unfailingly backed his disgraced officers from day one, should sack them.

Countdown to Inquest Nimber 3
2004 Nov 19: Mulrunji Doomadgee, 36, dies in custody at Palm Island police station after being arrested for being drunk and causing a nuisance
– Nov 26: Palm Islanders riot. Police officers seek refuge at the island’s hospital and are airlifted to safety. Rioters burn down the police station, courthouse and the home of officer-in-charge Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley
2005  Feb 28: Coronial inquiry into Doomadgee’s death begins
– Mar 4: State Coroner Michael Barnes stands down from the inquiry after claims of bias
30: Second inquiry begins
– Sep: Deputy Coroner Christine Clements finds Hurley responsible for Doomadgee’s fatal injuries Dec 14: Director of Public Prosecutions Leanne Clare determines Hurley has no case to answer and the death was a tragic accident
– 2007 Jan 26: Former NSW chief justice Laurence Street reviews case and advises there is enough evidence to prosecute Hurley, who is officially suspended Feb 5: Hurley faces Supreme Court charged wi manslaughter and assault
– Jun 20: Jury acquits Hurley on manslaughter and assault charges
Nov 2: Doomadgee’s widow, Tracey Twaddle, and his five sisters launch a $900,000 civil lawsuit against Hurley and Queensland police 2008
– Oct 9: Hurley launches an appeal in Townsville District Court to have the Deputy Coroner’s findings overturned
– Dec 18: District Court judge Bob Pack sets aside the Deputy Coroner’s inquest findings, saying medical evidence did not support the ruling, and orders inquest reopened
This year – Mar 8-9: The reopened inquest, before Deputy Chief Magistrate Brian Hine, holds hearings on Palm Island
– Mar 10-12: Inquest moves to Townsville; Hurley apologises to Doomadgee family but maintains he does not regret his actions on the day Yesterday:
Hine delivers an open finding on Doomadgee’s death