'Case should have gone to jury'

Steven Wardill and Rosemary Odgers

December 14, 2006 11:00pm

TOWNSVILLE MP Mike Reynolds has launched a stinging attack on the decision not to test the case against Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley before a jury.

An angry Mr Reynolds also launched a tirade against police, public servants and governments, including his own, for failing indigenous people.

The former academic said allowing the case against Sen-Sgt Hurley to be tried before a jury would have been a superior way of ensuring justice was done. "I think this could have been well and truly tested by the jury," he said.

While insisting he was not criticising the Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Reynolds said the findings were in "complete contrast" to those of the Deputy Coroner.

He accused police of being ignorant of the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in 1991 and said questions remained about whether Mulrunji should have been arrested in the first place.

Mr Reynolds claimed "culturally incompetent" bureaucrats were advising ministers and the Government had to re-establish an indigenous advisory committee.

Premier Peter Beattie urged everyone to accept the "umpire's decision" and said it was time to build a new future for Palm Island.

"Can I say to Mulrunji's family and the wider Palm Island community, I know this is not the decision you were hoping for . . . but we all must accept the decision of the independent DPP," he said.

Police Minister Judy Spence said police would now resume their examinations to consider several aspects of the case.

But Ms Spence appeared to defend the actions of police officers in the case, saying they had "done all they can to make life on Palm Island a safe place".