Hope for Bowraville families from Government review

4 June 2015

Hope for Bowraville families from Government review

The New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) has welcomed the NSW Government's decision to review the State's double jeopardy laws which may allow a retrial in the 23 year-old case of the Bowraville murders.

Three young Aboriginal people, Colleen Walker-Craig, Evelyn Greenup and Clinton Speedy-Duroux, were murdered near Bowraville in 1990 and 1991. Although a person of interest was charged with two of the murders, no conviction was secured.

In tabling the Government's response to the NSW Parliament's Standing Committee on Law and Justice Report, Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton has asked former Supreme Court Judge James Wood to review the double jeopardy laws.

Ms Upton also confirmed the Government would implement all 15 recommendations of the Committee's report.

Some of the recommendations agreed to by the Government relate to changes to the New South Wales Crimes (Appeal and Review) Act 2001 which may enable a retrial of the Bowraville murders.  These will affect the way the principle of double jeopardy operates where the rules of evidence have changed over time.

Other recommendations are concerned with improved cultural competency training for police and judicial officers as well as enhanced healing support for the Bowraville Aboriginal community.

NSWALC Mid North Coast Councillor, Peter Smith, said that the changes introduced by the Government may finally result in a suspect being tried for all three murders.

"Colleen, Evelyn and Clinton were all part of the Bowraville Aboriginal community. Their families are members of the Bowraville and Coffs Harbour Local Aboriginal Land Councils," he said.

"What happened to these Aboriginal families is the worst nightmare any parent or grandparent could have and for almost a quarter of a century the families have received no closure."

Cr Smith thanked the Baird Government for adopting the Committee's 15 unanimous recommendations.

He also commended Detective Inspector Gary Jubelin and his team for their tireless work on the case and their efforts in building trust with the local community and families.

Cr Smith also thanked the Committee and Greens MP David Shoebridge, who moved the motion to establish the Inquiry, for their sensitive and respectful approach.

"The Committee was careful not to raise false hope and the Report cautions that there are substantial hurdles remaining in the way of a retrial," Cr Smith said.

"But these changes agreed to by the Government represent the best chance that the families may finally receive justice and closure over what was done to their three precious children all those years ago," Cr Smith said.

Media contact: Andrew Williams 0429 585 291