More brutality uncovered in Douglas Scott death


Kathy Newnam, Darwin

In her quest to expose the truth about the death of Douglas Scott in Berrimah Jail on July 5, 1985, Letty Scott has uncovered more evidence of prison guards' brutality against her husband.

Letty was given access on February 11 to the files relating to Douglas's death that were part of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. This search has revealed more evidence that was not tendered by Geoffrey Barbaro, a lawyer assisting the royal commission.

These include a statement by Rene Dooling, a prisoner in Berrimah at the time of Douglas's death, whose sworn statement taken by Barbaro told of seeing Douglas's body "laid out on the grass" with "prison officers standing around him all talking and laughing and prodding him with their feet".

Dooling also stated that when he arrived at Berrimah he had noticed that Douglas had a black eye, which Letty believes was sustained by beatings from prison guards.

Other allegations uncovered in the royal commission files about the attitude of the prison guards concur with Dooling's statement — including that on the morning after Douglas's death, prison officer Thomas announced to prisoners that "Doug would not be joining us this morning because he had a sore throat".

Letty has brought charges against three NT prison officers for the assault and murder of Douglas. Charges for conspiring to pervert the course of justice have also been brought against four others, including Barbaro and fellow lawyer assisting the commission Mick Dodson.

These charges will be heard in the Darwin Magistrates Court on April 19. Letty is also fighting in court to quash the findings of the coronial inquest into Douglas's death. This case will be in the NT Supreme Court from April 11-18.

According to Letty, "The Northern Territory must be forced by the courts and the evidence to bring these murderers and bashers to justice for the murder of my husband and for indecently dealing with and kicking his body after they murdered Douglas".

Supporters are encouraged to attend the court hearings to show their solidarity with Letty's quest for justice.

From Green Left Weekly, February 23, 2005.
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