Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Killer cop faces probe into $100,000 compensation claim

FORMER Palm Island policeman Chris Hurley is still facing a probe into whether he dishonestly claimed $100,000 in compensation over riots in the aftermath of the Mulrunji death in custody.

The Crime and Misconduct Commission has ruled insufficient evidence to pursue allegations of assault, lying and collusion against the now Gold Coast based senior-sergeant.

Deputy Chief Magistrate Brian Hine in his findings of the third inquest into the 2004 Palm Island death in custody recommended in May the CMC investigate the allegations and potential for any new charges.

Six years on, the police officer acquitted of the manslaughter of Cameron Doomadgee and cleared of the latest inquiry into alleged assault and collusion is still under investigation for alleged insurance fraud.

Prominent criminal barrister Jeff Hunter, SC, is likely to brief the new Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions in coming weeks on whether to pursue criminal insurance fraud charges against Sen-Sgt Hurley.

Mr Hunter was asked to investigate whether Sen-Sgt Hurley sought to profit by making three compensation claims after rioters burnt down his house and police station three days after Doomadgee was found dead on the floor of a Palm Island jail cell.

The Aboriginal father-of-one, known as Mulrunji, died on November 19, 2004, after a watchhouse scuffle with Sen-Sgt Hurley. He had broken ribs, a ruptured portal vein and his liver was cleaved almost in two after what Sen-Sgt Hurley described as a tussle and complicated fall. Sen-Sgt Hurley did not return calls on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, six police officers who investigated the Palm Island death and were recommended by the CMC for disciplinary action after the alleged whitewash of police investigating police are still waiting in limbo. "Entire lives and careers are on hold," said one of the officers, who asked not to be named.

Former Deputy Commissioner Kathy Rynders is heading the inquiry into what disciplinary action the six officers should face after the damning findings of the CMC's Palm Island report.

Palm Island mayor Alf Lacey said the six officers "cannot be let off the hook". "They can try to close their book but the wider community will not shut the book on this ugly chapter," he said. "(Police Commissioner) Bob Atkinson and the police hierarchy need to get their act together and discipline those six officers who protected their own and covered up this injustice." [Dear Kathy will let them off lightly. Never fear]


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