Brewarrina convictions quashed

Issue 

Brewarrina convictions quashed

By John Tognolini

SYDNEY — Arthur Murray and Sonny Bates walked out of the NSW appeal court on April 6 with their convictions quashed from last year's Bathurst trial over the Brewarrina "riot" of August 15, 1987.

The convictions were quashed because of wrongful directions to the jury in the Bathurst trial, and there will be no new charges of riot because more than two people must be charged for that. But the judges left the way open for a new trial on assault charges.

"There shouldn't have been an appeal because there should never have been a trial. We should never have been charged", Arthur Murray told Green Left Weekly after the judgment.

"This case has already taken up five years of our lives", said Sonny Bates on the prospect of a new trial. Lawyers for the two Aboriginal men will seek to have further action dropped.

"For me, it has been hell", said Bates. "I've been reporting to the police every week for the last five years, and Arthur's in the same position. We've been to jail for crimes we never committed."

"The police don't like being beaten in court, and they will continue to harass us", said Murray.

"We've pleaded our innocence for five years," said Bates. "I'm not disappointed about all this, because I feel the truth will come out about the police. We were convicted on a conspiracy of lies. I said that at my trial and I'll say it again."

Bates is confident there won't be a new trial: "I don't believe the DPP will continue with the charges because they've got no evidence against us". Any retrial could be very embarrassing for the police, added Murray. "They're the ones who laid the charges and they told lies."