The First Step Feb. 2011 - Page 18

repeated the request several times Sgt Hurley became angry and attacked. ‘And he gave me a knees up in the guts, winded me.’ As this was a major problem in the late 1980’s and 1990’s, it was a shock to the system when the 2004 death in custody occurred. Despite the coroner’s report that concluded Hurley caused the death of Mulrunji, the Director of Public Prosecutions decided there was not enough evidence to charge him. The then-premier Peter Beattie ordered an independent review and it led to a charge of manslaughter, the first time a police officer had faced court over a black death in custody. But after a lengthy and tedious trial, Sergeant Chris Hurley was acquitted. It was announced in May 2011, that Queensland taxpayers will provide $370,000 in damages to the family of Mulrunji, but also been asked to pay the $1 million legal bill for Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley and the other officers involved in the case. Given Hurley was never convicted or disciplined over the incident he would normally be entitled, as a public servant to have his legal expenses covered. Seven years and has justice been served? Union President Ian Leavers stated; “This is one of the biggest cases and one of the most tested cases in Australian history. It is the only case which has been through the Coroner’s Court three times and appealed to the District Court, a Supreme Court trial the CMC and through many other jurisdictions as well as civil courts. And this is the only case in history where the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions was ignored by the State Government and they commenced a prosecution regardless. This is nearly seven years now and it is time we all get on with our lives and move on and that is Chris Hurley, the police service and the Indigenous community. It has been tried to death, we just need to continue on and move forward.” An interesting point to raise is as a result of the 2004 events, the only people to serve time in jail have been Palm Islanders, thirty charged over the riot and more than half of them serving sentences ranging from a few weeks to two years. These people were jailed for a crime which was basically done so to ‘protect their own’. I find this case particularly interesting and think more Australians, specifically Queenslanders should be aware of. I am no law student, but after all my evaluations I find the conclusions of this case rather bleak. Palm Island Despite the cascading sadness and despair People live, love, work, play, pray And continue to build hope for a future These people call Palm Island Home Written by Rachael Cummins at the handing down of the court decision: Hurley not guilty