Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Evidence 'trashed' by police: Palm Island inquest hears

Police told a witness they would "come after him" over the Palm Island death in custody as they crushed his damning statement and threw it in the trash, an inquest heard yesterday. Roy Bramwell, who was inside the Palm Island police station, yesterday told the inquest he saw Senior-Sergeant Chris Hurley "kick and punch" victim Cameron Doomadgee in a watch house scuffle.

"I saw him kick him, kick him, punch him three to five times," said Mr Bramwell, who admitted drinking more than 46 cans of full-strength beer the night before the November 19, 2004 death. "I could see he was hitting him by the door, I looked up, and saw them in the reflection of a mirror. "He had his knee on him, hitting him, moving his knee, forcing himself on him."

Mr Bramwell, who has previously been discredited as a witness with too many varying, inconsistent accounts, said he had a clear view of the action by mirror. "Hurley stood up and was saying, 'do you want more, you want more'," he told the inquest. "I told police he kicked him and all that, but he (Detective Darren Robinson) crushed it and put it in the trash. He then took me and made a second statement. "They told me if I told anyone what I saw they would come after me."

Deputy Chief Magistrate Brian Hine yesterday opened the third inquest on Palm Island into arguably the nation's most controversial Aboriginal death in custody. Mr Hine is re-examining how Doomadgee, known as Mulrunji, died inside the Palm Island jail cell less than an hour after his arrest.

Doctors found the 36-year-old, slimly-built father-of-one bled to death internally, with a ruptured portal vein, four broken ribs and his liver almost cleaved in two. They said the injuries were from "a massive compressive force more akin to a car crash and most likely a protruding knee than a punch".

In a bid to clear his name, Queensland Police Union lawyers pushed for another inquiry after the heavily-built, 203cm tall officer was acquitted of manslaughter and assault in his June 2007 trial. Sen-Sgt Hurley and his partner have reportedly booked a caesarean birth of their first child for today to allow the policeman to testify at the inquest in Townsville later this week.

Palm Islander Alfred Bonner revealed six years of frustration over the high-profile case as he was cross-examined over his evidence of how Doomadgee "sung out as he was punched". "If someone punched you, you'd be singing out," he told barrister Steve Zillman, for the Police Union.


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