By John Paul Janke.
POLICEMAN Chris Hurley caused the death of Cameron Mulrunji Doomadgee in the Palm Island police lockup then lied about it because he feared retribution, a magistrate has found at the third inquest into the controversial death in custody case. Deputy Chief Magistrate Brian Hine accepted the fatal injuries suffered by Mr Doomadgee - a burst portal vein and a liver which was cleaved in two - were caused by Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley. However he was unable to rule whether the injuries were inflicted deliberately or accidentally.
Mr Hine said the injuries could have been caused by Sen Sgt Hurley accidentally falling on top of Mr Doomadgee or by the officer ``dropping a knee into his torso''.
He also accepted Sen Sgt Hurley had punched Mr Doomadgee in the face and abused him during his attempts to force him into the police station. Hurley then dragged a "limp" Doomadgee to the cell.
There's no doubt he was dead weight at this stage, Mr Hine said. There also was no doubt Hurley fabricated evidence that he fell to Mulrunji's side when the pair scuffled.
Hurley then lied about the circumstances of Doomadgee's death to cover it up, and also out of fear of retribution from the Palm island community.
Mr Hine said that once Hurley made the lie, he was trapped.
He also said the police investigation was inappropriate, unacceptable and had its integrity compromised. He recommended the CMC be empowered and resourced to investigate death in custody cases.
The inquest was reopened last year after Queensland's Court of Appeal upheld a District Court decision to overturn the 2006 findings of deputy state coroner Christine Clements.
Mr Doomadgee died on the floor of a cell at the Palm Island watchhouse on November 19, 2004, after he was arrested for creating a public nuisance.
A Townsville jury acquitted his arresting officer, Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley, of manslaughter in 2007. The incident sparked a riot on Palm Island in which the police station and an officer's home were burnt down.
Last month counsel assisting the inquest Ralph Devlin, SC, told the court he was seeking an open finding.