THE deaths of four Aboriginal men, including Lewis ‘Buddy’ Kelly, whose body was found on train tracks in South Kempsey on New Year’s Day in 1984, will be referred to the coroner’s court, as family members and politicians hit out at ongoing homicide investigations.
The investigation into Lewis’ death was reopened in July last year but the demands from the family to have the homicide squad take over the case and a reward proposed for information surrounding Lewis’ death have fallen on deaf ears.
In an attempt to progress the investigations, Greens MP and Aboriginal justice spokesman David Shoebridge said his office would call on the coroner to investigate four “strikingly similar” cases.
“Steve (Smith); Mark (Haines); another young man called Buddy Kelly, a 16-year-old Aboriginal boy in Kemspey, and another family of a young man who was found dead on the train tracks at Werris Creek just months after Mark’s case,” Mr Shoebridge said.
“All four cases, Aboriginal men found dead on the railway tracks; all four cases had a very, at best, a summary investigation by police; all were written off as suicide.
“That is a grossly inadequate outcome.”
Mr Shoebridge said there should be a single hearing to investigate all four cases.
If there was an inquiry opened by the coroner, it could provide the breakthrough the families are desperately seeking in the pursuit of closure.
“Unlike the police, if witnesses are unwilling to co-operate, they can be forced and compelled to give evidence in a coronial court, which might make all the difference,” Mr Shoebridge said.
Lewis was last seen alive walking up the stairs of the railway bridge which connects West Kempsey with South, after he had attended a party at the skate park in West Kempsey with mates to celebrate the start of a new year.
Lewis’ body was found on train tracks in South Kempsey the next day and despite initial investigations concluding the apprentice glazier was responsible for his own death, his family maintains he was murdered.
Many witnesses were never properly interviewed by the police at the time of Buddy’s death.
The other eerily similar cases involve three young Aboriginal men who were also found dead, on or close by, train tracks.
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