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Racial bias in failed police investigation

Officer-in-charge of the coronial investigation – Detective Inspector Paul Quigg. Insets: Cindy Smith (top) and Mona Lisa Smith (bottom). Photos TWH /Adam Taylor

The coronial inquest into the deaths of two indigenous girls on the Bourke to Enngonia Road 37 years ago has found the initial investigation was ‘seriously deficient, partly due to racial bias.

Handing down her findings at Bourke Court House on Tuesday, the NSW State Coroner Theresa O’Sullivan said that the deaths of cousins Jacinta Rose ‘Cindy’ Smith, 15, and Mona Lisa Smith, 16, in December 1987 were not adequately investigated by NSW police.

Furthermore, Coroner O’Sullivan accepted the argument that racial bias had played a role in the failings of the original investigation.

It was found the failings had a major impact on the investigation and the prospects of any future criminal prosecution over the horrific deaths.

The findings follow last year’s renewed inquest into the deaths of the “inseparable” Smith cousins.

Mona-Lisa Smith and Jacinta Rose Smith got into a white Toyota Hilux utility in Bourke on Saturday evening, 5 December 1987.

The car was being driven by a local earthmoving contractor Alexander Grant (now deceased) who is understood to have agreed to take both girls home.

Shortly after the girls got into the vehicle, Mr Grant drove to the North Bourke Hotel where he purchased alcohol, before heading north along the Mitchell Highway towards Enngonia.

It is believed that Mr Grant lost control of the vehicle about 34 kilometres south of Enngonia before it rolled with the two girls being ejected from the vehicle, as they were not restrained by seatbelts. […]

Read more in the printed edition of The Western Herald.

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