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Palm Island cops dodge justice again

  • 05 April 2011

On Monday I was in Townsville meeting with people about the latest saga in the police cover up of the death of Mulrunji Cameron Doomadgee, the Aboriginal resident of Palm Island who never emerged alive from the Palm Island Police Station after the burly Sergeant Hurley fell on top of him in November 2004.

The Aboriginal community has had to endure: three separate coronial inquiries; a decision by the Queensland Director of Public Prosecutions not to prosecute; the reversal of that decision on advice from Sir Laurence Street who said, 'A jury could well find that the only rational inference that can be drawn as to the fatal injury is that it was inflicted by Hurley deliberately kneeing Mulrunji in the upper abdominal area'; the trial of Sergeant Hurley who was acquitted with his barrister telling the jury that Hurley was the 'instrument of another young man dying and that is a cross he will carry for the rest of his life'; a detailed hearing before the Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) which recommended 'that consideration be given to commencing disciplinary proceedings for misconduct' against six named police officers; a Supreme Court case denying the Queensland Police Commissioner the right to conduct the disciplinary proceedings on the grounds of apprehended bias; and now a decision by the deputy police commissioner that there was no need for any disciplinary action against any Queensland police officer.

All is well again in the state of Queensland. Or at least it is back to business as usual in Aboriginal-police relations.

The public is well familiar with the fact that the investigating police officers were treated to a barbecue at Hurley's residence on arrival on Palm Island before they commenced the inquiry into the death caused by Hurley. The barbecue was just the beginning of the chummy police cover up of their own negligence and dishonesty.

Here is just one example of the CMC's observations about the extraordinary behaviour of officers Kitching, Webber and Williams:

Kitching agreed that he only offered to pathologists information that he considered reliable and relevant. This seems in stark contradiction to his inclusion on the Form 1 of hearsay evidence about Mulrunji drinking bleach and his exclusion not only of [Palm Island resident Patrick] Bramwell's evidence but also of [resident] Penny Sibley's allegation of assault (the credibility of which had not been questioned). In effect, Kitching seems to have informed the pathologist of information