Palm dis­gusted: re­view re­fused

Townsville Bulletin - - Front Page - By RACHELLE CHAP­MAN

THE Palm Is­land com­mu­nity was seething last night fol­low­ing Queens­land Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Prose­cu­tions Leanne Clare’s de­ci­sion not seek an ex­ter­nal re­view of her de­ci­sion in the Hur­ley mat­ter.

Mrs Clare ig­nored Pre­mier Peter Beat­tie and At­tor­ney Gen­eral Kerry Shine’s re­quests for a re­view, which came af­ter the Pre­mier vis­ited the an­gry Palm com­mu­nity on Wed­nes­day.

Her fi­nal de­ci­sion comes one week af­ter she an­nounced Se­nior Sergeant Chris Hur­ley would not be charged over Mul­runji Doomadgee’s death.

Newly elected Palm Is­land Abo­rig­i­nal Shire Coun­cil Mayor De­lena Oui-Fos­ter said she was an­gry and dis­gusted with Mrs Clare.

‘‘For the DPP not to have an in­de­pen­dent re­view I think is cow­ardly,’’ she said.

‘‘There is so much in­ter­na­tional in­ter­est in this case it would be in Leanne Clare’s best in­ter­est to re­quest the re­view — it makes me won­der what has she got to hide.

‘‘(Mul­runji Doomadgee’s) fam­ily and our com­mu­nity have been trau­ma­tized since the death in cus­tody for the last two years, hop­ing that the ju­di­cial sys­tem will give us jus­tice.’’

Ms Oui-Fos­ter called for Mrs Clare’s sack­ing.

She said the Palm Is­land com­mu­nity would re­main calm but not stop fight­ing for jus­tice.

The Doomadgee fam­ily were too shocked to speak to the Townsville Bul­letin last night, but were ex­pected to make com­ment to­day.

Mrs Clare said she was acutely aware of the con­tro­versy over the de­ci­sion not to charge Se­nior Sergeant Hur­ley over the death of Mul­runji on Palm Is­land.

‘‘It does not change the fact, how­ever, that the ev­i­dence does not sup­port a pros­e­cu­tion,’’ she said in a pre­pared state­ment.

‘‘The pros­e­cu­tion guide­lines pre­vent a pros­e­cu­tion where the ev­i­dence of­fers no rea­son­able prospects of a con­vic­tion. This is the test ap­plied by prose­cu­tors across Aus­tralia.

‘‘The firm as­sess­ment of my of­fice was that the ev­i­dence fell con­sid­er­ably short of that which would be re­quired to put any­one on trial.

‘‘There­fore, no one in my of­fice could pros­e­cute this case re­gard­less of any po­si­tion adopted by an ex­ter­nal re­view.

‘‘Pros­e­cut­ing is not about be­ing pop­u­lar. It is about act­ing on the ad­mis­si­ble ev­i­dence with­out fear or favour and do­ing what is con- sidered in good faith to be the right thing.’’

But Ms Oui-Fos­ter said she did not ac­cept the DPP’s ex­pla­na­tion in light of deputy State coro­ner Chris­tine Cle­ments’ rul­ing that S e n - S g t H u r l e y c a u s e d Mul­runji’s death in Septem­ber.

Mrs Clare said that in­sti­gat­ing an ex­ter­nal re­view also posed a fun­da­men­tal is­sue about the in­de­pen­dence of the Of­fice of the Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Prose­cu­tions.

‘‘A care­fully con­sid­ered de­ci­sion was made in this mat­ter. The proper ex­er­cise of the in­de­pen­dent statu­tory func­tion of the DPP should not be over­rid­den by an­other agency,’’ she said.

Mrs Clare said she would be happy to meet again with the Doomadgee fam­ily.

Mr Beat­tie an­nounced yes­ter­day that from now on all in­dige­nous deaths in cus­tody would be treated sus­pi­ciously.

Mr Beat­tie an­nounced in Bris- bane that in­ves­ti­ga­tions would be ‘cen­trally man­aged’ by the Crime and Mis­con­duct Com­mis­sion, the po­lice Eth­i­cal Stan­dards Com­mand as well as spe­cial­ist units such as homi­cide.

‘‘It’s a bit too late for our brother that died but I think that it is a pos­i­tive step that this will never hap­pen again,’’ Ms OuiFoster said.

Abo­rig­i­nal ac­tivist Grace­lyn Small­wood said Mr Beat­tie’s an­nounce­ment was sim­ply too lit­tle, too late.

‘‘What is he do­ing about the death of Mul­runji Doomadgee, and how can the Queens­land pub­lic have any faith in the garbage that is com­ing out of his mouth now?’’ Ms Small­wood said.

‘‘Just to save po­lit­i­cal face he’s mak­ing all th­ese ridicu­lous state­ments.

‘‘He’s let a po­lice of­fi­cer get away with an Abo­rig­i­nal death in cus­tody. We just have no faith in him.’’

Mean­while, Mrs Clare said that a com­par­i­son could not be drawn be­tween the Hur­ley and Volk­ers cases, for which an ex­ter­nal opin­ion was sought.

‘‘The cir­cum­stance with the Volk­ers case was dif­fer­ent,’’ Mrs Clare said.

‘‘In that case there were two po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tions. A de­ci­sion not to pros­e­cute was made by this of­fice on the first brief of ev­i­dence.

‘‘The sec­ond brief of ev­i­dence was not con­sid­ered by this of­fice. Rather, it was sent in­ter­state for an ex­ter­nal opin­ion to avoid any per­cep­tion of bias that might arise from the first de­ci­sion.’’

Leanne Clare

De­lena Oui-Fos­ter

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