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Bowraville families want government apology for ‘critically flawed’ investigation

THE families of three Aboriginal children killedat Bowraville 24 years ago have called on the NSW government to apologise after a parliamentary inquiry conceded the initial police investigation was badly flawed and the justice system had failed.
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Justice still not served: no one has been convicted over the deaths of Colleen Walker-Craig, Clinton Speedy-Duroux and Evelyn Greenup.

It followed an emotional day in Parliament in which many MPs were brought to tears and the grieving families were honoured for their tireless fight to see justice served.

No one has ever been convicted for the deathsof Colleen Walker-Craig, 16, Evelyn Greenup, 4, and Clinton Speedy-Duroux, 16, in the early 1990s, despite police, legal experts and the victims’ families saying they know who was responsible.

A parliamentary report delivered on Thursday unanimously recommended that the government review a disputed technicality in the Crimes Act that has prevented the alleged murder cases from going to retrial.

It also called for any new retrial application to be considered by an independent assessor, and improved cultural awareness training for police, legal professionals and MPs.

The children disappeared from the same road in the northern NSW town over five months from September 1990.

Jay Hart, a white man who was close to the indigenous community, was tried for two of the crimes but acquitted. He was also a suspect in Colleen’s death, but her body has never been found.

The report found that an officer with no experience in homicide investigations was initially allocated to the cases, which “let down the families of the three victims”.

It said early investigations were “critically flawed”.

Supporters of a retrial say important leads were not explored by police and have not been heard by a court. Police, who initially claimed Evelyn and Colleen had “gone walkabout”, have been accused of racism and incompetence.

The committee formally acknowledged the families’ pain and suffering, adding it had been “significantly and unnecessarily contributed to” by the system’s failings.

MPs delivered emotional addresses to the chamber, including Greens MP David Shoebridge, who instigated the inquiry, and the committee’s chair, Liberal MP David Clarke.

“A killer whose crimes constitute evil at its very darkest and most depraved is still free,” Mr Clarke said.

“Justice demands that the killer of these three children whose lives were brutally cut short … should be brought to account.”

Detective Inspector Gary Jubelin, who has worked on the case since 1996, says subsequent investigations have uncovered significant coincidences that link all three deaths and tie them to Mr Hart, who has changed his name.

Evelyn’s aunt, Barbara Greenup-Davis, welcomed the report. But she said it did not lift “the burden of injustice” carried by the families, and the government must implement the recommendations.

Clinton’s sister-in-law Leonie Duroux said the justice system failed the families and “the government should make a formal apology”.

Premier Mike Baird said the families had been thorough “incredibly difficult circumstances” and the government would consider its response.

Story first appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald

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