Killing Fields Of Australia - A Matter Of
25, 2017 "Information
- About 100 metres from my home on the edge of
the Brisbane CBD is the corner of Boundary and
On November 7, 1993, Daniel Yock, an 18-year-old
Aboriginal dancer died there. Or at least he was
picked up there, by police.
Daniel probably died in the back of a police
wagon, like some cattle do on their way to a
slaughterhouse. In any event, he was certainly
dead by the time he reached the police
watchhouse, just a few kilometres from the scene
of his arrest.
Daniel Yock's 'offence' was to sit with his
friends in nearby Musgrave Park and drink
Throughout the afternoon, police circled the
block in a wagon. The boys - feeling harassed
and intimated - contacted the manager of the
local Aboriginal hostel they were staying at. He
came down to meet the group, and they decided to
head home before dark.
They were tailed by two police officers -
Constables Suzette Domrow and Scott Harris - the
Constable Harris is captured on police radio
recordings in the ensuing minutes before
"There's about 7 or 8 Aboriginal persons fairly,
sort of giving us a few problems and calling us
names. They are full of piss, we'd like some
persons to come down."
The recordings show car 591 responded
immediately, but was unavailable.
Harris: Yeah, I'll just get another car. I just
thought you might be around 'cause you love that
sort of stuff.
Car 591: Yeah, we'd like to but we can't.
Harris: You would have loved it. No worries.
Alas, no sport today for Car 591.
A few minutes later, Harris called for back-up,
and police from around the area swarmed. The
group scattered, but Daniel didn't get far. He
was crash tackled to the ground by police.
Multiple witnesses - including white bystanders
- reported that after he was brought down, he
didn't move. One of his friends, Glen Gray,
could see foam coming from the mouth of a
clearly unconscious Daniel Yock. He tried to get
police to help. They pushed him back, ignored
Yock was dragged unconscious to the paddy wagon,
and dumped in the back. His hands were still
cuffed behind his back. The police then drove
around looking for another youth. One of the
boys already in the back with Daniel tried to
alert police Daniel's condition. He was also
When the wagon finally made it back to the watch
house half an hour later, Daniel Yock was likely
An independent forensic pathologist noted that,
with three fresh abrasions to his head, Daniel
may have been the victim of a relatively minor
assault in the course of his arrest. It had not,
however, caused his death. But a pre-existing
heart condition meant that Yock's handling after
his arrest - in particular the speed at which
arresting officers provided aid in the face of
obvious symptoms of severe distress - was
Needless to say, no police were ever charged
over the death of Daniel Yock. A Crime and
Corruption Commission inquiry instead
recommended "further training" for officers.
Move along, nothing to see here.
That was almost a quarter of a century ago.
Today, Daniel Yock would be 42. Most Australians
don't remember his name. Indeed, most
Australians would never have even heard of him.
Aboriginal people remember Daniel Yock, and
countless others either killed directly by the
justice system, or killed by civilians and then
let down by the justice system.
This week, Aboriginal Australia has another name
to add to a lengthy catalogue of deaths spanning
decades - and longer. Deaths which clearly have
had little to no impact on a justice system that
has always been stacked against them.
That name is Elijah Doughty (pictured at
the top of this article).
In a welcome break from tradition, on this
occasion the deceased was not killed at the
hands of police. Elijah Doughty was killed by a
citizen, a 56-year old Kalgoorlie-Boulder man.
As is now well known, on August 29, 2016, Elijah
was riding a stolen motorbike on the outskirts
of town. There is no evidence that Elijah stole
it, nor that he even knew it was stolen.
The owner had been told the previous day by
police that stolen bikes often get dumped in a
reserve just out of town. And so the next day,
he parked near the reserve, turned his engine
off, wound his window down to listen out for
bikes, and he waited.
Eventually, Elijah rode past. The man took off
in pursuit, driving a large Nissan Navara 4WD
Less than a minute later - around 30 or so
seconds - Elijah Doughty was dead. In addition
to massive head and internal injuries, his
spinal cord was severed at the base of his
brain, killing him instantly.
Responding police vehicles and an ambulance
drove over the tracks left by the Navara, which
made piecing together what happened much more
difficult. In the end, investigators had to rely
heavily on the man's version of events - that
Elijah was off to the side and in front of his
vehicle, but that he suddenly veered in front of
the 4WD, and then disappeared under it.
He didn't have time to stop, he told police.
The man's defence attorney, told the court:
"Ultimately it's the defence case had the bike
not veered in front of (the accused) this
wouldn't have happened."
That's certainly one way to put it. You might
equally argue that if the man hadn't taken the
law into his own hands, or if local police had
done their job in the first place, rather than
advise him to go look himself - there might also
have been a different outcome.
Regardless, the man's version of events appears
to be the one that police accepted, forming the
view that he never intended any harm to come to
That's why he was charged with manslaughter, not
murder. But the man wasn't even convicted of
that. In a Perth court this week, he was instead
found guilty of the lesser offence of 'dangerous
driving causing death', and sentenced to three
That verdict and sentence, unsurprisingly, has
sparked widespread grief and anger from
Aboriginal people around the country. But before
we turn to why, it's worth examining briefly
what the death, trial and its fallout also
On Saturday morning, Chris Jenkins, a West
Australian man who attended a snap vigil in
Perth on Friday night, used his Facebook page to
describe his interaction with media covering the
response to the verdict.
"An important vigil last night for Elijah
Doughty and his family.... One thing that really
hit home about the treatment of Aboriginal
people was when I noticed a cameraman for the
ABC. I approached and asked that if the family
were willing, would the ABC be interested in
doing interviews with them there and then. He
replied 'yeah probably' but that his brief from
higher up had been to pan the crowd and keep an
eye out for 'trouble', and film that."
Apparently Channeling Kelly-Anne Conway and her
'alternative facts', an ABC executive, Andrew
O'Connor, weighed in on Jenkins' wall a few
"Hi Chris. I'm the News Editor for ABC News in
WA and I want to offer a different perspective
and it's actually the opposite of what you
think. Acutely aware of the enduring grief and
pain still being felt by Elijah Doherty's
family, friends and the broader community, our
reporter and camera operator were trying to
remain unobtrusive, not out of fear but out of
respect. We were also aware that in the midst of
that grief and pain, people may have also felt
angry at the outcome of the case."
A few hundred kilometres west of Perth, here's a
brief snapshot of how the ABC ended up covering
the reaction to the verdict in Elijah's
"The verdict was greeted with grief and anger
outside the courthouse in Kalgoorlie, where
people had watched proceedings via a special
video link. About 100 people marched down the
city's main street, Hannan Street... The group
was tightly flanked by riot police but despite
being vocal, there was not the same level of
aggression or violence seen in last year's riot
on the same street."
Presumably, there also wasn't the same level of
"aggression or violence" that saw a 14-year-old
boy chased down and killed.
But back to the court process.
There seems little point in debating the
outcome. The sentence will likely not be
appealed. Justice has been done, say
authorities. Move on.
Elijah Doughty's family will have to make peace
with the fact that the man who killed their
14-year-old child will serve, at most, three
years behind bars. And they'll have to make that
peace in a climate of collective indifference to
their suffering, and the suffering of many, many
Unless you've lived it, there is no possible way
to understand the depth of despair that follows
that response. But there is value in
understanding why the people of Kalgoorlie rose
up last year; why they may again; and why
Aboriginal people around the country are once
against devastated at the price our society puts
on the lives of their children, and their loved
And so, here's a list of the dead, to help you
understand. It's by no means comprehensive -
thousands of Aboriginal people have died without
justice over hundreds of years. This list is
just intended to provide you a brief snapshot of
how our nation kills Aboriginal people, and then
responds to their deaths.
Eddie Murray, aged 21
On the afternoon of June 12, 1981 Eddie Murray -
a promising young Aboriginal football player -
had tried to enter the Imperial Hotel in the
north west NSW town of Wee Waa, most likely to
use the toilet.
Like the majority of his countryman, Eddie was
banned from the Imperial. Indeed, most
Aboriginal people were not welcome in the few
bars in Wee Waa, a feature of most country towns
The doors were locked to keep him out, but Eddie
'refused to quit', and so the police were
called. He was arrested under the Intoxicated
Persons Act 1979, ostensibly for his 'own
90 minutes later, Eddie Murray was found hanging
from strip of blanket in his cell. A decade
later, the Royal Commission Into Aboriginal
Deaths in Custody, which was sparked in part by
Eddie's death, found two officers lied about the
circumstances leading up to the death, but did
not pin blame on the police for the actual
killing. Eddie's family never accepted those
findings, and a decade and a half later, their
disbelief was vindicated.
After the exhumation of Eddie's remains and an
extensive independent investigation, it was
found he had a previously undiscovered injury to
his chest - his sternum was broken. That had
apparently been missed in the autopsy, and thus
not canvassed by the Royal Commission.
Medical experts theorized that the most likely
cause of the fracture was one or more blows to
Eddie's chest prior to his death, and they
questioned how, if he had a broken sternum, he
could string himself in his cell.
The mystery was never solved. In the face of
compelling new evidence, the NSW Police
Minister, Paul Whelan and the Attorney-General,
Jeff Shaw - Ministers in Bob Carr's first
cabinet - said they would both seriously
consider the new report, and its
recommendations. Nothing came of those
Murray's parents, Arthur and Leila, campaigned
for decades for justice for their son. Leila
died in 2003, Arthur died in 2012. Justice
In 2014, Eddie's family refreshed their calls
for a new inquiry. The NSW Attorney General,
Brad Hazzard indicated he'd like to meet the
Murray family to discuss it. Nothing ever came
of that either.
Today, Eddie Murray would be 57.
John Pat, aged 16
In September 1983, John Pat, a young Aboriginal
boy, was beaten to death by four off-duty police
officers outside the Roebourne Hotel.
After the assault, he was arrested and taken
back to the local watch house. The officers
involved in the fight returned to their drinks
at the bar, and later dined at a local
restaurant. Police involved in the arrests from
the nearby town of Wickham also attended.
Meanwhile, John Pat lay dying in the local watch
house from massive head injuries. His jailers
did not check on him - instead they falsified an
entry in the occurrence book, which was supposed
to record regular checks on the welfare of
Six witnesses subsequently testified that the
off-duty police acted as aggressors in the
brawl. Five police were ultimately charged with
manslaughter. Each was acquitted unanimously by
an all-white jury.
The response from the West Australian Police
Union was to demand compensation from the
government for their legal expenses (which was
paid), before publicly calling for the weakening
of the Aboriginal Legal Service, and
successfully lobbying against legislative moves
to strengthen the power of independent
authorities to investigate police.
Today, John Pat would be 50 years old.
Lloyd Boney, aged 28
In August 1987, Lloyd Boney was arrested in the
western NSW town of Brewarrina, for a breach of
bail conditions from earlier offences. Boney was
arrested and dumped in a police cell, heavily
One of the arresting officers, Constable
Fernandez, left the station unattended for
almost two hours. Lloyd Boney was found hanging
in his cell from a football sock.
His body was rushed to Bourke for examination,
before his family was even notified he was dead.
Police testimony later delivered in court was
quaintly described by the Royal Commission as
Like the earlier coronial inquest, the Royal
Commission recommended the NSW Police Service
consider action be taken against officers over
the death. Here's an excerpt from the Royal
Commission about how that went:
"When the coroner recommended that the
Commissioner of Police investigate whether there
was any breach of Police Instructions arising
from the fact that Lloyd had been left
unsupervised, a departmental decision was made
that Constable Fernandez was guilty of a neglect
of duty and that he should be 'counselled'. All
that Constable Fernandez could remember about
this counselling was that he was told 'to take
more care with prisoners".
The fact that the officer was treated "very
lightly" was put down to the trauma he suffered
as a result of the death, and his "lengthy cross
examination" at the coronial inquest.
In the end, no police ever faced charges over
the death, but lots of Aboriginal people did.
Seventeen of them, in fact, after police were
accused of attacking mourners at Boney's
The police inspector who led the investigation
into the uprising, was the same officer who led
the inquiry into Boney's death, an investigation
described as "inadequate" and "blinkered" by the
Arthur Murray (the father of Eddie Murray) and
Albert 'Sonny' Bates (Boney's brother-in-law)
were eventually convicted by an all-white jury
in Bathurst and sentenced to 18 months jail for
affray. That's half the sentence handed down to
Police at the uprising were given bravery
By way of postscript, two decades later, in
2011, Sonny Bates would be jailed again, this
time for sparking a 12-hour siege at a
solicitor's office in Parramatta with a fake
bomb threat. No-one was injured. Bates was
jailed for almost three years, the same sentence
as Doughty's killer.
Sadly, taunting mourners at the funeral of Lloyd
Boney wasn't the only way police responded to
the death. Here's a video that emerged in 1992
of two police turning up to a fancy dress
charity fundraiser in NSW country town.
The video, which was filmed in 1989, also mocked
the death of David Gundy, who was shot and
killed a few months earlier. Gundy had been
sleeping in his bed when police stormed his
inner-Sydney home during a bungled (and illegal)
raid in search of another man. At the time, the
president of the NSW Police Association
described the video as just a bit of harmless
Lloyd Boney would be 58 today.
Colleen Walker, aged 16; Evelyn Greenup, aged
4, Clinton 'Speedy' Duroux, aged 16
From September 1990, to February 1991, children
began disappearing from the Aboriginal mission
in Bowraville, on the NSW mid north coast.
In the space of six months, Colleen Walker, aged
16, Evelyn Greenup, aged 4, and Clinton 'Speedy'
Duroux all went missing.
Police decided Walker had 'gone walkabout', and
refused to properly investigate. At one stage,
police told Walker's mother, Muriel Craig
Walker, to come to the police station - her
daughter had been found on a bus heading north.
When Muriel arrived, police realised it was the
wrong Colleen Walker (they found an elderly nun,
not a young Aboriginal woman). Muriel never
heard from the Bowraville police again.
When Evelyn Greenup - a baby - disappeared a few
months later, police responded by sending in
child abuse investigators to probe the
Those investigations continued until a few
months later, when the body of Clinton Duroux
was discovered in nearby bushland, two weeks
after he went missing. Police finally realised
they had a serial killer on their hands.
In the course of police investigations, it
transpired that a set of weights - believed to
be one of the murder weapons - was returned to
the chief suspect, and that independent witness
testimony was never followed up.
A local white man, Jay Hart was eventually
charged, but acquitted in two separate trials
(Greenup and Duroux).
Police have since admitted and apologised for
comprehensively bungling the investigation, and
wrongly blaming the community for the deaths.
But still, no-one was behind bars. The victims'
families and the broader Bowraville Aboriginal
community kept fighting, for more than two
decades. In November 2011, after yet another
failed attempt to force the government to act,
the NSW Deputy Premier, Andrew Stoner gave the
families a commitment he would contact them with
details of their fresh appeal. They never heard
Finally, thanks to an extraordinary
investigation that spanned more than a decade,
led by NSW Police Detective Gary Jubelin, the
government was forced to act in the face of
'compelling new evidence'. Hart was been
recharged with the murders, and the trial is
awaiting the outcome of an appeal.
No police were ever sanctioned over the failed
Colleen Walker and Clinton Duroux would be aged
43 today. Evelyn Greenup would be 31.
Mulrunji Doomadgee, aged 36
If the Bowraville Murders sum up the
indifference to Aboriginal deaths by the
Australian justice system, then death of
Mulrunji Doomadgee sums up its deceit.
In 2004, Mulrunji was beaten to death on the
floor of the Palm Island police station, off the
coast of Townsville in northern Queensland.
Mulrunji's crime was offensive language - he
sung 'Who let the dogs out' as he walked past a
police officer arresting another Aboriginal man.
About 45 minutes after he was thrown into the
back of the police van, Mulrunji had bled to
death on the floor of the local watch house. In
the course of the police assault on Mulrunji, he
suffered multiple injuries, including having his
liver "cleaved in two". His injuries were
consistent with a plane crash, and even if he
had been transported immediately to hospital, he
could never have survived.
The man who killed Mulrunji was Senior Sergeant
Chris Hurley, the highest ranking officer on the
island and at six foot six inches tall and well
over 100 kilos, twice the size of Mulrunji.
Within hours of the killing, Hurley, was
drinking beer with the police sent to
investigate him, at least one of whom was a
A pathologist's report - which was completed
without police revealing that an officer stood
accused of assault - found that Mulrunji died
after tripping up a single step entering the
police station, and falling onto a flat floor.
The Aboriginal community responded by burning
the police station, the courthouse and Hurley's
barracks to the ground.
Hurley was placed on fully-paid leave, then
promoted to acting Inspector, but not before
fraudulently collecting an ex-gratia payment
from the Beattie Labor Government of more than
$102,995 for property he claimed he lost in the
fire, which had already been paid out by
insurers to the value of $34,980.
Aboriginal people weren't so lucky. The man who
shared a cell with Mulrunji, and comforted him
as he screamed in agony and died, took his own
life a few years later. Mulrunji's son killed
himself a week before his father's inquest was
set to begin.
More than a dozen Aboriginal people were jailed
over the uprising, while - like the uprising in
Brewarrina over the death of Lloyd Boney -
police on Palm Island received bravery medals.
Hurley was acquitted in 2007 for the
manslaughter of Mulrunji. He was finally
suspended from the police force more than a
decade later, after grabbing the wrist of a
female Police officer while off-duty.
Hurley remains suspended from the Police
Service, but is expected to be allowed to retire
as medically unfit some time this year.
Lex Wotton, the man who led the uprising on Palm
Island - the injuries from which totalled a
bruise to the hip of a police officer - was
sentenced to seven years in prison. That's more
than twice the sentence Elijah Doughty's killer
Mulrunji would be aged 49 today.
Mr Ward, aged 47
On Australia Day, 2008 Mr Ward, a respected
Aboriginal man, was picked up by Laverton Police
in the West Australian desert for drink driving.
He was refused bail - illegally - and then
transported hundreds of kilometres south to
Mr Ward didn't survive the journey. He was
cooked to death in the back of a privately
contracted prison van, the air-conditioning of
which was not working.
A coronial inquest revealed the heat was so
intense in the back of the van that Mr Ward
suffered fourth degree burns to his body. After
collapsing to the floor, a hole was burnt
through his skin, exposing his organs.
No-one has ever been held criminally liable for
Mr Ward's death, despite several warnings
delivered to the WA Department of Justice that
the fleet of prison transport vans were
Mr Ward would be aged 56 today.
Kwementyaye Ryder, aged 33
On July 25, 2009 Kwementyaye Ryder was kicked to
death by five white youths in Alice Springs. His
'crime' had been to throw a bottle at their car,
after they'd driven at him and a group of people
sleeping in the dry bed of the Todd River.
Amid a 12-hour binge drinking session, the
youths had earlier driven home to retrieve a
replica firearm, which they then aimed and fired
at terrified Aboriginal campers.
The boys - Scott John Doody, Timothy Hird, Anton
Kloeden, Joshua Benjamin Spears and Glen Anthony
Swain - were described by the judge, Brian
Martin as otherwise upstanding citizens.
A few days after the murder - and before the
killers had even been identified - the local
council passed laws that criminalised begging,
and allowed rangers to throw away blankets which
were routinely stored in bushes in the river bed
by homeless people, to help them survive the
freezing Alice Springs winter.
One local man responded by selling "White power
Alice Springs" t-shirts from the back of his
car, directly outside the council chambers. I
managed to interview him by phone at the time.
He told me he'd "done time for flogging the fuck
out of some coons" and added, "go and see the
fucking coon camps, the coon creeks. they
couldn't invent the fucking wheel."
Like the killer of Elijah Doughty, the youths
escaped with little jail time. They served
between 12 months and three and a half years,
having been charged with the lowest level of
Kwementyaye Ryder would be aged 41 today.
Kwementyaye Briscoe, aged 27
In January 2012, Kwementyaye Briscoe was picked
up by Alice Springs police for being
That's three full decades after Eddie Murray -
whose death helped spark the Royal Commission -
was taken into police custody for precisely the
same reason. For his protection.
Video footage from the watch house shows how NT
police protect vulnerable Aboriginal people. At
one point, Mr Briscoe is flung head first into
the front counter, and then forced to the floor
by police. He's dragged off to the cells, before
police return to mop up his blood from the
Mr Briscoe is dumped face down in his cell and
then left unattended for more than two hours
while police surfed the internet, listened to
music with headphones, and ignored the pleas of
other prisoners for help.
Despite the video evidence, and a coroner's
investigation, no charges were ever recommended
let alone laid against police.
Mr Briscoe would be aged 32 today.
Ms Dhu, aged 22
On August 4, 2014, Ms Dhu, a Yamatji woman, died
in a South Hedland police cell in Western
She'd been locked up by police for three days
over unpaid fines. In the course of her
incarceration, she complained repeatedly of
Police thought she was faking.
Even three separate visits to the local hospital
didn't save Ms Dhu - medical staff on two
occasions gave her a cursory examination, and
sent back to the watch house with minor pain
Ms Dhu, who had a broken rib, was deemed by all
to simply be a black junkie coming down off
A subsequent coronial investigation acknowledged
the failings of police and medical staff,
however no charges were recommended, and none
have been laid.
The coroner did, however, actively try to
prevent the broadcast of CCTV footage of Ms Dhu
in custody, despite her family calling for it to
be publicly released.
On one occasion, the footage shows police
entering her cell, trying to lift her then
letting her go and watching her head slam into
the concrete floor.
She's then dragged from the cell along a
corridor and dumped into the back of a police
van, for her third and final trip to hospital.
Ms Dhu died shortly after of septicaemia and
Ms Dhu would be aged 25 today.
Some of these deaths are at the hands of police.
Like the death of Elijah Doughty, some are at
the hands of ordinary citizens. But all of them
have one thing in common - at varying points
along the way, the victims and their families
were failed spectacularly by Australia's justice
The list above represents a tiny proportion of
the failures, which are ongoing, and perpetrated
in broad daylight. For the past few weeks in
Alice Springs - one of only a handful of towns
that could rival Kalgoorlie for its endemic
racism - local residents have been openly
calling for the slaughter of Aboriginal people
(in particular children) on social media. That's
been going on for years, and attracts the same
response from police and authorities. Precious
little. People are rarely if ever charged.
Prior to and following the death of Elijah
Doughty, precisely the same thing occurred on
Kalgoorlie social media pages, with the same
limp response from authorities. We don't just
ignore the truth of our past Down Under, we
actively ignore the truth of our present as
This catalogue of failures by the criminal
justice system is well known to Aboriginal
people. They live it and confront it every day.
There could barely be an Aboriginal family in
this country not touched by these tragedies, or
let down by those charged to protect them.
It is a fact of life that tragedies happen, that
people die, sometimes children. But when it
happens in Australia, to those most brutalised
and marginalised, our collective response is
almost always found wanting. It is either one of
silence, or faux sympathy, and never with any
real effort to challenge and change a system
that routinely delivers the outrages.
This is what non Aboriginal Australians say when
children like Elijah Doughty die: 'There's no
winners here'. 'This is a tragedy'. 'That poor
man will have to live with this for the rest of
Yes. Live. Precisely. He will live. He gets to
rebuild his life. Elijah Doughty doesn't.
Neither does Elijah Doughty's family. But the
killer won't need as much time to rebuild his
life as you might think. Apart from having his
name suppressed, so that he will never have to
face any public scrutiny for his actions, it's
been widely reported that he received a
three-year jail term.
That's true, he did. But his sentence was also
marked 'eligible for parole'.
Counting time served since August last year, he
may get out of jail as early as February next
year, in eight months time. The only way it
could get more deliberately outrageous is if
authorities chose February 2 - the official date
of Groundhog Day - for his release.
Either way, a man who chased down, ran over and
killed a 14-year-old Aboriginal boy will, in all
likelihood, serve less than two years for his
That's the price our nation places on the life
of an Aboriginal boy. What's so tragic is that
logically, Aboriginal people should probably
feel grateful that he'll served any time at all.
Chris Graham is the
publisher and editor of New Matilda, Australia (www.newmatilda.com).
He is the former founding managing editor of the
National Indigenous Times and Tracker magazine.
Chris has won a Walkley Award, a Walkley High
Commendation and two Human Rights Awards for his
reporting. He was an associate producer on John
Pilger's 2014 film, Utopia.
This article was first published by
views expressed in this article are solely those
of the author and do not necessarily reflect the
opinions of Information Clearing House.