Double jeopardy law changes to be tabled in parliament

Greens MLC David Shoebridge observes three minutes silence for the murdered Bowraville children at a protest outside NSW Parliament last month
Greens MLC David Shoebridge observes three minutes silence for the murdered Bowraville children at a protest outside NSW Parliament last month

A MOTION calling for an inquiry into the double jeopardy laws which prevent the main suspect in the Bowraville children murders from being retried will be tabled in NSW Parliament today.

More than 22 years after Colleen Walker, Clinton Speedy-Duroux and Evelyn Greenup were killed within a six-month period on the Aboriginal mission, no-one has ever been held responsible for their deaths.

While the prosecutions brought against a suspect for the murders of Clinton and Evelyn were unsuccessful, there has never been a trial where all three killings have been considered together.

Changes to the double jeopardy legislation, which allow a person who has been acquitted of a life-sentence offence to be retried where "fresh and compelling evidence exists", passed through parliament in 2006.

The families of the Bowraville children had hoped the changes would apply to their cases but in February NSW Attorney-General Smith announced he would not use his power under section 115 of the Crimes Act to allow an application to the Criminal Court of Appeal seeking a re-trial.

Greens MLC David Shoebridge believes the original police investigation into the murders was "characterised by flawed communication, the loss of crucial evidence, crime scenes being not properly identified, witnesses being poorly interviewed and legitimate lines of inquiry not being followed up".

The motion will read that the Upper House: "Refer the question of whether the Double Jeopardy changes adopted by Parliament...are having their intended effect to the law and justice committee and request the committee to consider the case of the Bowraville murders in the course of its inquiry".

Attached to the motion will be a copy of a petition calling for an inquiry which Mr Shoebridge said had been signed by hundreds of supporters from the Mid North Coast and beyond.

He said the families had "shown enormous restraint" by not resorting to their own forms of justice and now that the legal process had failed them, they deserved answers.

The house sits at 2.30pm.


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