IN THE face of public pressure, the Queensland Government has
asked for a review of a controversial decision not to press charges
against a policeman over the death of a Palm Island man.
Queensland Attorney-General Kerry Shine has asked for a second
opinion on the Director of Public Prosecutions' decision not to
charge Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley over the 2004 death of Mulrunji
Mr Shine yesterday overrode the DPP, Leanne Clare, who less than
24 hours earlier had publicly defended her decision.
Ms Clare released a terse statement late yesterday saying she
had briefed the Attorney-General on the case and had then sent him
her file at his request.
She did not comment on the the Attorney-General's decision, but
reiterated her view that "there is no evidence to prosecute".
Mr Shine will refer the file to the Crown Solicitor, who will
nominate an independent reviewer, probably a retired judge, to
He hopes to have a report for Parliament in early February.
Mr Shine said the only way he could satisfy himself that the
correct decision was made was to send it for review.
Labor Party president Warren Mundine welcomed the move, saying
that while the Government had performed a "backflip
But the Bar Association of Queensland said the decision "could
cause serious damage to the system of criminal justice in
Queensland if the director's decisions are to be
Last week Ms Clare sparked outrage when she decided not to
charge Senior Sergeant Hurley over the death of Mr Doomadgee,
saying the evidence did not prove his guilt.
Her decision was at odds with an earlier coronial finding that
Senior Sergeant Hurley had hit Mr Doomadgee a number of times,
causing his fatal injuries.
According to autopsies detailed in the Coroner's report, Mr
Doomadgee died on the floor of the Palm Island watchhouse with four
broken ribs, a liver almost "cleaved in two" and with a least
1½ litres of blood in his abdominal cavity.
The controversy over Ms Clare's decision might never have arisen
had it not been for a change to Queensland's laws in 2003. The
changes meant that the Coroner could no longer recommend criminal
charges, but was required instead to refer the decision to the
Mr Shine said it was "pure speculation" to say whether Senior
Sergeant Hurley would have faced charges had the coroner still been
able to recommend them. That was because the 2003 changes also
meant the coroner could hear evidence that she would not have
Earlier in the week, Premier Peter Beattie announced that future
deaths in custody would be treated as suspicious and subject to
special rules following the Coroner's finding that the
investigation into Mr Doomadgee's death had been "deficient".
Frederic Cassis, the director of the Errol Wyles Justice
Foundation for equal legal treatment, said an independent review
had to be conducted outside Queensland by a former High Court judge
who was "free from any kind of influence".
And he called for any further evidence gathered by the DPP to be