Racial factors impacted on investigation into child murders

A file photo of protesters demanding a fair go for the families.
A file photo of protesters demanding a fair go for the families. Trevor Veale

ONE of the state's most senior homicide detectives has told a parliamentary inquiry the murders of three Aboriginal children in Northern NSW may have been solved had the victims been "three white children from a wealthy suburb in Sydney".

In an extraordinary submission to the inquiry, which began in Macksville on Thursday afternoon, Detective Inspector Gary Jubelin said it was an "uncomfortable truth" that race and socio-economic factors had impacted the way the investigation into the 1990 Bowraville murders had been handled but one he felt should be accepted.

For more than 20 years, the families of Colleen Walker and Clinton Speedy-Duroux, both 16, and Evelyn Greenup, 4, have maintained authorities treated them unfairly - a claim Det Insp Jubelin said they had every right to make.

The officer in charge of the re-investigation since the late 1990s said it appeared as though every time family members put their trust in authorities, the system let them down.

He said despite the fact that the murders "should have been solved", the families had "suffered the indignity of being judged on their lifestyles, a lot of which is based on ignorance and lack of understanding".

Dismissing suggestions of a second suspect in the murder, Det Insp Jubelin went as far as saying there was significant evidence the original person of interest was a "a predator who targeted a vulnerable community", supplying the children with alcohol and drugs and spiking their drinks.

Double jeopardy laws now protect the original person of interest, who was tried over two of the murders and acquitted.

Det Insp Jubelin urged the committee to visit the community to gain a better appreciation of the current impacting factors and the historical racial divide that led to a breakdown in trust between the Aboriginal and white communities.

He warned the families believed they knew who murdered their children and would not give up until they had their day in court.

"The families have conducted themselves with dignity in their efforts to seek justice for their children," Det Insp Jubelin said.

"As a homicide detective of more than 20 years experience I am confident in saying these matters are linked.

"If all of this evidence could be presented to a jury, there would be reasonable likelihood of a conviction beingrecorded."

The inquiry is looking at the impact of the murders on the victims' families and the Bowraville community.

The families have long campaigned for a royal commission and overhaul of double-jeopardy legislation.

While it is not what the families had hoped for, Clinton's aunt, Helen Duroux, said she hoped it would be a step towards what they needed - a guilty verdict.

Part two of the hearing will be heard on May 12.

Topics:  aboriginal racism

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