FASD and the Justice System – Corruption and Crime Commission slams WA criminal investigations
Yet another person living with FASD gets convicted without revealing his crucial defense – undiagnosed brain damage from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. The Australian revealed that Gibson (the convicted individual) is strongly suspected of having undiagnosed brain damage from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, a condition that could have profoundly affected his interactions with police and his ability to understand his plea.
Deep malaise and systemic weakness permeate criminal investigations in Western Australia, according to a damning report by the Corruption and Crime Commission delivered to state parliament yesterday.
The CCC’s excoriating findings about the police investigation of the unlawful killing of 21-year-old Josh Warneke in Broome in 2010 warn that miscarriages of justice may have occurred.
The report focuses on a series of flawed police interviews in 2012 with Gene Gibson, an illiterate man from the Western Desert community of Kiwirrkurra who was charged that year with the roadside murder of Warneke. Gibson is in Perth’s Acacia Prison.
Since August, The Australian has revealed a witness potentially crucial to Gibson’s defence was not revealed to the court or to his lawyers before they assessed the available evidence and negotiated with the Director of Public Prosecutions for a manslaughter plea. Gibson insists he is innocent, and Warneke’s mother, Ingrid Bishop, no longer believes he is the killer.
The Australian also revealed last week that Gibson is strongly suspected of having undiagnosed brain damage from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, a condition that could have profoundly affected his interactions with police and his ability to understand his plea.
“The risk of injustice is magnified when a person to be interviewed also has an intellectual disability,” the report states.
Pintubi-speaking Gibson had been interviewed by Major Crime Squad officers for a total of nine hours without an interpreter, despite speaking poor English. The Supreme Court threw out the interviews, but in October last year Gibson pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter and was sentenced to 7½ years in jail.
WA Attorney-General Michael Mischin has stood by the jailing of Gibson in recent months, saying no evidence had been furnished to establish any claim that Gibson was “not truly guilty”.
Mr Mischin was unavailable yesterday to comment on the CCC report or its finding that the truth and accuracy of one prosecution witness — “TN” — was in doubt.
TN said he had seen Gibson strike Warneke, but his evidence was undermined by later disclosures and TN’s retraction.
“It was of paramount importance that such information should have been subject to disclosure to Gibson’s defence,” the CCC said.
It said “the message is not getting through” that Aboriginal people who are not proficient in English must have an interpreter.
Officers interacting with Aboriginal citizens must be properly trained in culture and language.
While acknowledging the pressures of “concurrent and challenging homicide investigations”, the CCC said the failures of the Major Crime Squad “reflect no credit on it.” It says police officers “have often failed to comply with the Criminal Investigation Act 2006 and their own Police Manual when interviewing suspects.”
The commission stops short of publishing any opinions of misconduct, due to current proceedings against several officers. For one officer, that may include a criminal charge.
The CCC has instead given its opinions “and related material” to WA Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan.
Source: The Australian
Disclaimer: The views and opinions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Edmonton and Area Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Network.