Media release

21 August 2017  

A second Aboriginal family from New England is closer to obtaining justice for the death of their 17 year old son with his murder investigation now being transferred to the State Crime Command Homicide Squad.

Stephen Smith was just 17 when his body was found on the railway tracks south of Tamworth in 1995. His case has distressing similarities to the death of Mark Haines in 1988 who was also found dead near train tracks outside of Tamworth.

Both cases were initially investigated by Tamworth’s Oxley Local Area command and each family had valid concerns with the quality and timeliness of the criminal investigation being undertaken by the Tamworth local police.

In each case Greens MP and Aboriginal Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge raised the families’ concerns in Parliament and requested the Police Minister and Commissioner to refer the investigations to the State Crime Command.

 Greens NSW MP and Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

“It is positive to see the families of these two young men now one very real step closer to justice.

“These are just two of many historical cases, especially in regional NSW, where Aboriginal deaths have been treated with less rigour and less care than those in the non-Aboriginal community.

“The deaths of two young Aboriginal men in such disturbingly similar circumstances is a cause for serious concern and certainly requires the most thorough and independent investigation.

“Aboriginal families are quite rightly demanding that deaths in their community be given priority by NSW police, and this is a call that I 100% support.

“In both cases the initial local police investigation was seriously lacking, with police failing to maintain crucial evidence and important leads not followed.

“The State Crime Command’s Homicide Squad is the most experienced murder investigation team in the country and the fact they are reviewing these cases is very welcome,” Mr Shoebridge said.

David spoke about Stephen’s death in Parliament here: https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/Hansard/Pages/HansardResult.aspx#/docid/HANSARD-1820781676-73497/link/55