(Transcript from SBS World News Radio)
A New South Wales parliamentary inquiry has found the families of three Aboriginal children murdered in Bowraville 24 years ago were failed by the system.
But despite two court cases and a coronial inquest – no one has been convicted.
Sacha Payne has more.
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Over a five month period between 1990 and 1991, 16 year old Colleen Craig, four year old Evelyn Greenup, and 16 year old Clinton Speedy-Duroux were murdered in Bowraville on the New South Wales north coast.
In 1991, a man was charged with Clinton and Evelyn’s murder.
He was aquitted of murdering Clinton in 1994 and shortly afterwards prosecutors also dropped the charges relating to Evelyn.
However, after an inquest into Evelyn’s death in 2004, the same man was again charged with Evelyn’s murder.
He was then acquitted a second time.
Now, a parliamentary inquiry into the murders has called on the state government to clarify laws, to allow a retrial.
The committee also recommended New South Wales Police review all of its policies relating to Aboriginal people.
Committee chair and Liberal MP David Clarke says he hopes the committee’s recommendations will lead to justice for the families.
“Every party was represented, the cross bench, the government, the opposition was represented on the standing committee and it was unanimous. 15 recommendations, all of them carried unanimously and you can’t get stronger than that as far as a report is concerned.”
The committee also recommended any new application for a retrial of the murders be considered by an independent assessor such as a retired judge or prosecutor from another jurisdiction.
David Clarke says this would mean all evidence from three cases – that were previously examined separately – could be heard together in one trial.
“And if the three cases are heard together that similarity of evidence will irretrievably point in a particular direction as to who the culprit is.”
Greens MP David Shoebridge says an important recommendation was that the use of the word ‘adduced,’ within section 102 of the Crimes Act be defined.
“If adduced is clarified, that one word is clarified, then that will enable the evidence that couldn’t have been admitted in the first trial, because it related to other murders, it would allow that evidence to be admitted in a fresh trial.”
Clinton’s Aunt, Helen Duroux, says the recommendations are reassuring.
“Sitting in the parliament room and listening to each and every single one of those Parliamentarians give us their pledges, I feel reassured that, yes, we’re going to do something, that is not only change for our family’s concern. If these recommendations are acted upon, it’s going to have far reaching changes and make changes for the whole of Australia and the Aboriginal community.”
The New South Wales government has six months to act on the recommendations.
A final decision to try the cases together must be made by the Court of Criminal Appeal.