Palm Island Decision

News from the Queensland Government:
Friday, January 26, 2007
POLICE OFFICER TO FACE LEGAL ACTION IN RELATION TO PALM ISLAND DEATH
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Kerry Shine, today confirmed he had received Sir Laurence Street’s legal opinion in relation to possible charges resulting from the death of Mulrunji on Palm Island in 2004.
Mr Shine said Sir Laurence, a former New South Wales Chief Justice, had considered the brief of evidence provided by the Director of Public Prosecution Leanne Clare.
Sir Laurence was asked to consider (1) whether sufficient admissible evidence exists to support the institution of criminal proceedings against any person with respect to the death of Mulrunji; and (2) whether a reasonable prospect of a conviction before a reasonable jury exists in the event a prosecution is brought against any person.
“Sir Laurence has advised me that he believes there is sufficient admissible evidence exists to support the institution of criminal proceedings against Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley for manslaughter of Mulrunji,” Mr Shine said.
“Furthermore, Sir Laurence believes there is a reasonable prospect of a conviction.”
Mr Shine said Sir Laurence had emphasised that his role was not to determine whether Senior Sergeant Hurley was guilty of an offence, but rather to determine whether he should be put on trial.
“In light of Sir Laurence’s opinion, and having given very careful consideration to the matter myself, I have decided it is in the public interest that this matter should be resolved in a court,” he said.
“I have today instructed the Crown Solicitor to take the necessary steps to initiate a prosecution as soon as possible.”
“I ask that, given the pending legal proceedings, the media show restraint in their reporting of this matter so that Senior Sergeant Hurley can be assured of a fair trial.”
Mr Shine said the fact that Sir Laurence had formed a different opinion to that of Ms Clare was in no way a slight on her.
“The best legal minds often differ on matters of law – even in the High Court of Australia it is common for differing judgements to be recorded,” he said.
“In my view, Ms Clare has acted within the scope of her duty and her authority.”
Mr Shine said the Government’s intention remained to table Sir Laurence’s opinion in State Parliament.
“We will do so as soon as it is legally appropriate, but it is likely this will not be until after the court case to ensure the fairness of the prosecution is not compromised,” Mr Shine said.
26 January 2007
Media contact: Kirby Anderson 0418 197 350
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