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Hurley Not Guilty

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Chris Hurley has been found not guilty. Slightly old report before the news below:

Jury retires in Hurley trial


THE jury hearing the trial of police officer Chris Hurley - charged over a death in custody on Palm island - has retired to consider its verdict.

In his closing instructions to the jury, Justice Peter Dutney urged the panel to judge the case against Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley on its own merits and consider their verdict carefully.

Snr Sgt Hurley has pleaded not guilty to one count each of manslaughter and assault over Mulrunji Doomadgee's death at the Palm Island watchhouse on November 19, 2004.

Justice Dutney told the Townsville Supreme Court jury: "This trial is not concerned with police in general, it is not concerned with the riots which occurred after Mulrunji's death was published."

Yesterday, Special Prosecutor Peter Davis, in his closing address, said Senior-Sergeant Chris Hurley had admitted killing Cameron Doomadgee, now known as Mulrunji, after a violent struggle that led to a fall in the doorway of the police station.

Mr Davis told the jury it was up to them to decide if the lethal blow was "deliberate or accidental". "He told a lie," Mr Davis said.

"We know the accused has had time to stand up, pull Mulrunji out of the doorway, and, the Crown says, drop his knee into him.

"We are not trying to rebuild ancient Rome, it is simply as he gets up, he has lost his temper and bang."

Hurley, who has pleaded not guilty to unlawful assault and unlawfully killing Mulrunji, clearly did not intend to kill him, Mr Davis said.

"We don't say he intended to cleave his liver across his spine, probably all he intended to do was wind him and disable him temporarily and put him in the cell."

Mulrunji, who was arrested for swearing, died from massive internal bleeding due to his liver being virtually split in half and his portal vein ruptured by the compressive force, most likely a knee, less than an hour after being taken into custody on the morning of November 19, 2004.

His death sparked riots on the island and led to locals burning down the police station, watch house and barracks.

Mr Davis ridiculed Hurley's claims he was mistaken in his evidence to investigators and the whole incident was a grey area.

"He can't help you with the booming question of this case: How could he so badly injure this indigenous man without noticing?

"What he said was a part of a body must have touched him, well, that must be an understatement when you look at the medical evidence."

Defence barrister Bob Mulholland, QC, told the jury the death was a tragedy and to convict Hurley would be "a double-tragedy".

"Mr Hurley will never forget that he was the accidental instrument of another man dying, that is the cross he will carry for the rest of his life despite what happens here."
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The second Coroner, Christine Clemants, claimed that the injury that led to Mulrunji's death was inflicted by a human blow and it was very likely sustained during custody, and it led towards charges against Hurley, whilst a month later, They had someone to do an inquest into the events and concluded that there wasn't enough evidence and then the DPP said that a trial or even place charges against Snr Sgt Hurley was due to that conclusion. Thats when the March for Justice was held in Cairns, Townsville, Brisbane and even Sydney, and i participated in the Townsville one, They placed Sir Laurence Street to review the case, and he concluded that there was enough evidence for a trial, and then thats when the trial came about, and now he has been found not guilty.

Isoboy, even though you are trying to get your point across, i would very much appreciate it if you didnt use an ethnic slur to describe someone or something, you could use black man or aboriginal which are more appropriate than b***g.
I haven't been following this too well but a torn liver is a pretty damn serious injury. I mean, it's not just a fractured skull. If nothing constitutionally or otherwise illegal happened I don't see why it shouldn't have gone to trial. Wasn't there some kind of issue about the coroner's recommendation?
"What do you suggest should have happened in the wake of a man dying in custody, from injuries he sustained while in police custody?"

Hurley should have been dealt with like any other Australian regardless of occupation or skin colour. If after an investigation the DPP concluded that there was insufficient evidence to proceed that should have been the end of it. The fact that the CMC made an identical decision and the fact that the DPP got advice from Judge Thomas scream that the DPP got it right.

They shouldn't have hired Jessie Street's boy to find something else. At the very least they should have got someone with more recent experience than someone who retired as a judge in 1988 so that irrespective of bias at least they would be qualified. But in any case the DPP decision should have ended it. Hurley's fundamental civil rights should not have been breached.

"And yes, the court decided that there was no *proof* that the fatal injuries were maliciously caused by Hurley, but it was always a court that should have decided this, not an internal investigation by the police themselves - hardly an impartial investigation!"

Neither a coroner nor a police officer are in a position to decide on someone's guilty or innocence. They may have views but their job is to investigate. The DPP decided not to proceed. That was obviously an impartial decision.

"And just because it was never a guarenteed conviction doesn't mean it shouldn't have proceeded. Using your logic, no cases would be ever be prosecuted unless there is unequivocal CC-TV footage, or the criminal themselves sign affadavits admitting to their crimes!"

It wasn't a case of whether or not there was a guaranteed conviction. There was insufficient evidence to proceed. A reasonable jury could not return a guilty verdict.

Perhaps you should acquaint yourself with the facts of the case. After the $7million investigation and prosecution it is fair to say that Hurley has been proved innocent beyond reasonable doubt.
Aussie Bhoy, *if* the only reason this went to trial was because of Beattie, then good on him. My estimation of him just went up.

jb3, drop the "perhaps you should acquaint yourself with the facts of the case" sh*t. I have the same access to media, and the internet etc. that everyone else has - and I have taken an active interest in this story - so don't pretend that just because you don't agree with me, I must be 'unacquainted' with the case. It's obviously not good enough for you that Hurley was found not guilty - apparently the fact that a man died of injuries sustained in a police watchouse (and this part has *never* been in doubt, the issue is whether it was deliberate), should have just been swept under the carpet by internal investigations and not gone any further. If you think that's sufficient, you must be completely unfamiliar with the concept of justice.
Then you are happy for politicians to decide who should be tried for crimes, especially if there may be some votes in it for them, over and above the independent prosecutors that you earlier described (when you thought they instigated charges) as "the state prosecution certainly seemed to think so, and they've got more experience in pressing charges than you or I"..

Maybe we could also have a big brother style vote open to the public for trials. The premier can announce who is being charged, Gretel can be the judge, and channel 10 could televise it all. You could use the call in money to fund the courts system.
Aussie Bhoy, *if* the only reason this went to trial was because of Beattie, then good on him. My estimation of him just went up.
Aussie Bhoy, the main issue here is not what the Premier may or may not have had to do with the prosecution - it's that a man died in police custody of injuries sustained in their custody. Or is that an unimportant little side issue for you? You need to get real. Hurley should always have been charged, and if you or I were in a similar position, we would have been. If someone died in your home, of injuries sustained in a scuffle with you, you would most certainly be charged with manslaughter, if not murder. It would not be swept away by claims that any injuries inflicted were unintentional, which was Hurley's defence in a nutshell. And it would not be dismissed by 'well, there were no other witesses - or CC-TV footage - so where's the proof?' You seem to think that because Hurley is a police officer, he's above the usual application of the law, which is just not on.

And you still haven't answered my question from the last page. Until you can, don't bother replying to me - I'm not interested in debating an issue with someone who responds to the parts they like and ignores the others.
I believe this was the answer to that question, written in the next post after you posed the question.
I can see why there was a trial, I am pulling you up on this original comment,
The question was: "What do you suggest should have happened in the wake of a man dying in custody, from injuries he sustained while in police custody?"

"I can see why there was a trial, I am pulling you up on this original comment" is no answer at all.
Yes it is, "I can see why there was a trial", means because the media harped on at the premier to have the trial. They did it because it is a good story, guaranteed to keep papers selling and the news ratings good. The added spice is the suspicion in some people’s minds that the police in regional communities are all KKK 1960's Mississippi police style racists.

This is all getting confused, your point was that the prosecutors knew best, and my original comment is that the police unions anger is because after the prosecutors decided that charges shouldn't be laid (due to no chance of a conviction), Premier Beattie had a 3rd person (whose integrity and independence the police union doubt) review the situation and decide to lay charges.

It's all decided now anyway, so hopefully we have heard the last of it. Believe me if there were any evidence of a policeman deliberately killing an Aboriginal person (or anyone else in custody) I would be the first to want them imprisoned. I don't think Sergeant Hurley willfully tried to kill anyone. A very drunk person, who had been abusing police and resisting arrest dies from injuries sustained in the struggle. It was his own fault, not a deliberate attempt by police to hurt him. As has now also been decided by a jury, but millions of dollars ago in legal fees was also decided by the prosecutors and a CMC investigation.
is one afforded natural justice (or if you prefer, due process) if prosecutorial discretion is interfered with?
I think we'll just have to agree to disagree, Aussie Bhoy. Doomadgee was definitely drunk, and allegedly disorderly, but I don't believe that a fatal application of force is an acceptable response. The penalty for being drunk and/or disorderly in this country is not death. Even you've admitted that Doomadgee died from "injuries sustained in the struggle" (hell, even Hurley admits that!), and I fail to see why that's not very reasonable grounds for a manslaughter charge. There are numerous other safer options for quelling an allegedly disorderly person - such as capsicum spray - which were just not used.

And no, I don't believe that Hurley wilfully tried to kill Doomadgee either, but he wasn't charged with that - he was charged with manslaughter, which is generally considered to be an unintentional killing but with a wilful disregard for the person's wellbeing. And I don't care that millions of dollars have been spent investigating this - if someone dies in police custody - or in anyone's custody - of injuries inflicted by the custodian, then no expense should be spared on trying to get to the bottom of it. Now that that's been attempted at least, hopefully Doomadgee's family will get some closure, and hopefully police are on notice that they have to be very careful how they handle people in custody, to avoid future deaths. If it's done that, then some good has been done here.
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