Today the NSW Attorney General has failed the families of three children murdered in Bowraville a quarter of a century ago. The refusal to amend the state’s double jeopardy laws to allow a clearer path for the families to obtain a retrial for the murders in light of fresh evidence is just a continuation of 25 years of disrespect by the NSW Government.
Despite the Attorney General’s failure, the families and NSW Police are in a position to promptly commence a fresh application to have a retrial under the current double jeopardy laws. This application contains more detailed evidentiary analysis and fresh material that was not considered in previous applications.
While reform of double jeopardy would make the application easier, the fresh application is not dependent on the law changing. However the fresh application must be given a fair, impartial and independent assessment in accordance with the recommendations of the 2014 Parliamentary report into the Bowraville murders.
Greens MP and Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
“What really hurts about this decision is that it comes on top of 25 years of disrespect to these families and communities.
“If we were talking about bringing to justice a serial murderer where the three victims were white kids, does anyone seriously think that a lawyer’s report would stop reform?
“Despite this setback, the fight for justice will continue.
“The families and NSW police are in a strong position to file a fresh application for a retrial under the current double jeopardy laws.
“The fresh application is not dependent on the law changing. What is essential is that the fresh application be given a fair, impartial and independent assessment.
“This means the fresh application must be considered by an independent assessor, such as a retired senior judge or senior prosecutor from a jurisdiction other than NSW in accordance with Recommendation 9 of the Parliamentary report.
“Today’s Wood report is only one of a number of reports into the Bowraville murders.
“It remains a fact that the clearest path to justice that has been identified to date is for the double jeopardy laws to be reformed.
“The Greens have a private members bill before the NSW Parliament which will come to a vote on Parliament’s return in February 2016 to reform the State’s double jeopardy laws.
“If the bill succeeds then this will only strengthen the merits of the families’ fresh application for a retrial,” Mr Shoebridge said.
Full text of Recommendation 9 of the Parliamentary report is as follows:
That the NSW Government ensure that, should any new application for a retrial of the Bowraville murders be submitted to the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions or Attorney General, the merits of the application be considered by an independent assessor, such as a retired senior judge or senior prosecutor from another jurisdiction