Brooks Jef­frey

Was the death of Jef­frey Brooks re­ally an ac­ci­dent?

WHO - - Contents - By Stephen Downie

JEF­FREY BROOKS WAS AN ex­pe­ri­enced shooter – he’d been around guns all of his life. That’s im­por­tant to know. On March 13, 1996, Brooks, 24, was found slumped over in the front seat of his car, a bul­let wound in his chest, at a farm south of Bris­bane. At the time, po­lice said Brooks ac­ci­den­tally shot him­self, but for more than 22 years his par­ents have main­tained his death was no ac­ci­dent. It was mur­der, they say.

“Jef­frey’s killer should have been got within a cou­ple of hours,” Brooks’ mother, Wendy Brooks, told Seven Net­work’s Sun­day Night.

Now there are fresh hopes the truth of Brooks’ death will be re­vealed. Ev­i­dence, in­clud­ing rev­e­la­tions he feared he was about to be killed, have prompted the Queens­land At­tor­ney- Gen­eral Yvette D’ath to di­rect the

state coro­ner to re­open the in­quest into Jef­frey Brooks’ death.

“In 1998, a coro­ner handed down an ‘open find­ing’, mean­ing that doubts re­mained about the ex­act cir­cum­stances of Mr Brooks’ death,” D’ath said in a state­ment on Nov. 2. “My de­ci­sion to re­open the coro­nial in­quiry is based on new cred­i­ble and in­de­pen­dent ev­i­dence that was not avail­able dur­ing the 1998 in­quest into Mr Brooks’ death.”

High-pro­file Queens­land crim­i­nal lawyer Peter Boyce, who rep­re­sented the fam­ily in the Daniel Mor­combe mur­der case and now rep­re­sents the Brooks fam­ily, be­lieves the new ev­i­dence is “cru­cial” to the case. “All my clients want is for no stone to be left un­turned,” Boyce tells WHO. In­ves­ti­ga­tions by The Courier-mail news­pa­per’s Dead Wrong pod­cast series and Sun­day Night have shone a light on the case, and both reveal ap­par­ent flaws in the orig­i­nal po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

So what re­ally hap­pened to Brooks? The Been­leigh Cray­fish Farm was haem­or­rhag­ing cash when Brooks, a mar­ried marine bi­ol­o­gist from Lis­more on the NSW north coast, fresh out of uni­ver­sity, was em­ployed to fig­ure out what was go­ing on. He dis­cov­ered cray­fish from the farm were be­ing sold “out the back door” for cash sales, Brooks’ fa­ther, Lawrie Brooks, told Sun­day Night.

Paul Ste­wart, co-owner of the farm, hired a pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tor who dis­cov­ered farm worker Regine Geiger was sell­ing boxes of cray­fish to ho­tels and res­tau­rants. Geiger was sacked, along with her hus­band, Hans Geiger, and an­other farm worker, Gra­ham Lloyd.

Now Brooks was wor­ried his col­leagues were go­ing to kill him and it would be made to look like an ac­ci­dent. “In ac­tual fact, he said, ‘I’m fright­ened I’m go­ing to cop a bul­let,’ ” fam­ily friend Bob Martin told Sun­day Night Brooks said to him. “He felt that he would wear a bul­let and it would be made to look like an ac­ci­dent.”

On the day he died, farm work­ers re­ported hear­ing two gun­shots at around 1.30pm. But Ste­wart claims Brooks made a phone call to him at 1.51pm, telling him he’d found a record of the farm’s cash sales. Then, he told Ste­wart, “I can hear some­one com­ing … cu­rios­ity killed the cat.” Less than two hours later, Brooks was found dead. How does a dead man make a phone call?

A bal­lis­tics ex­pert who re-cre­ated the con­di­tions – in­clud­ing the an­gle and dis­tance of the gun from the body – told Sun­day Night he did not be­lieve it would be pos­si­ble to ac­ci­den­tally shoot your­self.

No fin­ger­prints were ever taken from the gun, nor were Brooks or the farm work­ers checked for gun­shot residue. And the shot­gun it­self was ac­ci­den­tally de­stroyed. Den­nis Walker, a for­mer Work­cover Queens­land in­ves­ti­ga­tor who looked into Brooks’ death, thought the case “may in­volve mur­der”. But he was un­der pres­sure to agree with po­lice.

Boyce says the fam­ily wants po­lice to rein­ves­ti­gate the case with “an open mind”. “It’s been a long jour­ney for the fam­ily, wait­ing for some­one to lis­ten to them,” Boyce says. “They’re pretty clear on what they be­lieve the re­sult should be – and they don’t feel that’s been achieved to date.”

Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from uni­ver­sity with a de­gree in marine bi­ol­ogy, Jef­frey Brooks started work at The Been­leigh Cray­fish Farm.

Jef­frey Brooks’ par­ents, Lawrie and Wendy, have al­ways main­tained their son’s death was not ac­ci­den­tal.

In re-cre­at­ing the con­di­tions for the shoot­ing, Sun­day Night used FBI­grade bal­lis­tics gel and pig skin.

Brooks was found dead near a dam on The Been­leigh Cray­fish Farm, south of Bris­bane.

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