CONTROVERSY surrounding the Palm Island death-in-custody case
intensified yesterday with the resignation of the former judge
assigned to decide whether a police sergeant should be
But Pat Shanahan's resignation from a two-man review panel
failed to satisfy critics, who called for the case to be reviewed
Civil liberties campaigner Terry O'Gorman said an interstate
director of public prosecutions should decide whether Senior
Sergeant Chris Hurley had a case to answer over the death two years
ago of Mulrunji Doomadgee, 36.
"There's a perception that there's something amiss," Mr O'Gorman
said. "That perception has to be dealt with and the only way it can
be dealt with is by the arm's-length process of an interstate DPP
(director of public prosecutions). Any second opinion from within
this state would not have any credibility because it would be seen
as part of the same legal, political, judicial elite."
Mr Shanahan, a former chief judge of Queensland's District
Court, was appointed last week to review chief prosecutor Leanne
Clare's decision not to lay charges over Mr Doomadgee's death.
Her decision came despite a finding by Deputy Coroner Christine
Clements that Senior Sergeant Hurley was responsible for Mr
There were immediate calls for Mr Shanahan to stand down from
the review because he was a member of the panel that recommended Ms
Clare's appointment as Director of Public Prosecutions six years
ago. Queensland Attorney-General Kerry Shine denied pressuring Mr
Shanahan to quit.
Mr Shine said he had directed Crown Solicitor Conrad Lohe to
find a replacement for Mr Shanahan quickly to ensure the review's
findings could be presented to Parliament in February.
Kirby Anderson, a spokesman for Mr Shine, said there was nothing
to stop Mr Lohe appointing someone from outside Queensland.
Mr Doomadgee died of internal injuries on November 19, 2004.
Rioting broke out after an autopsy revealed he had suffered four
broken ribs and that his liver was cut almost in two as it was
forced against his spine during a scuffle and fall at the police
Medical evidence suggested the fatal injuries could have been
caused by a knee or elbow connecting with Mr Doomadgee's abdomen in
a fall if Senior Sergeant Hurley landed on top of the dead man. But
Senior Sergeant Hurley initially told investigators he fell to Mr
Deputy State Coroner Clements found that Mr Doomadgee was
subjected to an unwarranted arrest and that Senior Sergeant Hurley
had caused the fatal injuries with a series of blows as Mr
Doomadgee lay on the floor. Ms Clare refused to proceed with
charges, however, and said the death resulted from a complicated
Mr O'Gorman said the office of the Queensland Director of Public
Prosecutions should not be involved in any prosecution. If the case
proceeded to a committal hearing, and then to a trial, it should be
prosecuted by an outsider.