Thursday, July 1, 2010

Protest the decision not to lay charges in the Ward case

The Director of Public Prosecutions has announced that they will not lay charges against anyone over the death of Warburton Aboriginal elder Mr Ward.

This is an outrage and a snap protest has been called for tomorrow at 12:15pm outside the DPP offices (26 St Georges Terrace, East Perth).

Please watch this video and hopefully take on board the sentiment expressed and then do your best to come along and join the snap protest tomorrow. The protest was called by Deaths in Custody Watch Committee and is supported by Socialist Alliance, the Ecological Social Justice Aboriginal Party and others.

From the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee:
Dear Friends & Supporters,

Deaths in Custody Watch Committee calls public protest actions
Deaths in Custody Watch Committee (WA) spokesperson, Marc Newhouse today announced a series of protest actions to be held following the Director of Public Prosecutions’ decision not to lay criminal charges against any of the parties responsible for the death in custody of Mr Ward in 2008. 
“We are unmoved in our belief that the Department of Corrective Services, G4S and the two G4S guards all need to be held accountable for their roles in Mr Ward’s death” Mr Newhouse said.

“This is not the end. We will leave no stone unturned in our fight for justice for Mr Ward”.

Emergency Public Protest: Friday, 2 July at 12:30PM
DPP Office ‘International House’, 26 St Georges Terrace


Major Public Protest Rally and March: Sunday 11 July at 1PM
Supreme Court Gardens, cnr Barrack St & St George’s Tce, Perth



Family urged to sue over elder's death
June 29, 2010
A lawyer's group says the family of an Aboriginal elder, who died while being transported by prison guard contractors in searing heat, should sue the WA Government.
Mr Ward died in 2008 after being transported hundreds of kilometres across the Goldfields in a prison van with faulty air conditioning.
The temperature in the back of the van was close to 50 degrees.
The Director of Public Prosecutions has decided not to lay criminal charges against anyone involved in his death.
This is despite a coronial inquest finding that the Department of Corrective Services, the two prison van drivers and their employer G4S were all partly responsible.


Family angry at not hearing decision directly from DPP
JESSICA STRUTT, The West Australian June 29,
The distraught family of an Aboriginal elder who died in the back of a prison van are angry at the decision not to lay charges over his death. Mr Ward's cousin Daisy Ward said yesterday the family were upset that no charges would be laid.
They were particularly shocked to find out the news through word of mouth, rather than from DPP Joe McGrath who only met Mr Ward's wife, Nancy, in Warburton over the weekend to inform her of his decision.
"The prison guards didn't do their duty of care," a traumatised Daisy Ward said yesterday as she broke down in tears while speaking by phone. "I'm really sad. I have a broken heart. We are all upset about it.


Frustrated DPP sees flaws in quality of police probe
JESSICA STRUTT and NATASHA BODDY, The West Australian June 29, 2010
The State's top prosecutor said there were "regrettable aspects" about the quality of the police investigation into the death of an Aboriginal man who died of heatstroke in the back of a prison van.
Defending his decision not to lay criminal charges over the matter, the Director of Public Prosecutions Joe McGrath said yesterday there was not enough evidence to support a case of manslaughter by criminal negligence. And even if there was, there was "no reasonable prospect of conviction".
It came as Mr Ward's family and the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee vowed to hold a public rally at State Parliament in coming weeks to protest against the decision.
Mr McGrath said he had sought the independent opinion of prominent Sydney criminal barrister John Agius and he agreed with the position taken by the DPP.
He would not release the independent advice because it was subject to legal professional privilege. Mr McGrath said he felt "a degree of frustration" about the inability to lay charges.
He raised the prospect of the family pursuing civil action over Mr Ward's death but refused to elaborate.


Mr Ward's family holding onto hope for justice
July 2, 2009
The Director of Public Prosecutions has begun his inquiries into the death of an Aboriginal elder in the back of a prison van, giving his family and supporters hope that charges could be laid.
The victim was 46-year-old Warburton man Mr Ward, who was effectively roasted in the van during a four-hour journey between Laverton and Kalgoorlie in January last year.
A coronial inquest found Mr Ward's death was "wholly avoidable", and State Coroner Alistair Hope recommended charges should be laid over the incident.
The inquest was told that Mr Ward - whose first name cannot be published because of cultural reasons - had endured temperatures in excess of 50 degrees in the pod of the van.
Mr Hope found "inhumane treatment'' led to the elder's death and said the company involved, Global Solutions Ltd (GSL), its two guards Nina Stokoe and Graham Powell, and the Department of Corrective Services had all contributed to Mr Ward's "terrible death''.


Queries over van death witnesses
JESSICA STRUTT and AMANDA BANKS, The West Australian July 1
The failure of police to separate two key witnesses to the death of an Aboriginal elder in the back of a prison van was reviewed as part of an internal WA Police investigation.
Asked whether any officers responsible for not separating the witnesses had faced or were facing disciplinary action, a WA Police spokesman said on Tuesday internal action had been taken.
But he refused to detail the actions or name the officer or officers involved.
"WA Police does not make specific public comment on internal investigation outcomes, which involve counselling, behavioural modification and or disciplinary action," he said.
But yesterday, the spokesman said no officers had been the subject of disciplinary action specifically over the separation of the guards.
He said the failure by officers to separate security guards, Nina Stokoe and Graham Powell, who transferred Mr Ward in the prison van, before they were interviewed by police after his death, was just one part of the police internal investigation.
Details of the investigation were part of a report before State Coroner Alastair Hope.