Mood: not sure
Topic: election nsw 2007
SAM's editor then a legal adviser to environmental activists remembers his name and his face so well. His tears in the dock. His 30 days in Berrima Gaol bail refused, in 1998 as one of the 'peaceful anti Jabiluka uranium mine' protesters.
This story in the news today reminds me:
about railway coppers gobbed on by 'a Redfern man' which may well be a euphemism for an Aboriginal bloke. Aboriginal Magistrate Pat O'Shane is again being criticised for letting him off.
Tyron was as Anglo as this writer, popular and good with a guitar. Ned Kelly style looks but actually a quiet personality. You can imagine him locked under a mining machine as feral activists will do, trespassing, or obstructing police, but spitting?
Must be a bad one surely. Not so. This is where context comes in. His friend Rusty was locked on under a bulldozer too next to Tyron. The police couldn't cut Rusty's device so they dislocated his shoulder ripping his arm free instead. This went on for minutes of shrill agonised screaming.
(Rusty later sued for criminal injury by the NT police via NT Legal Aid from memory, result unknown, compliant to Ombudsman etc.)
But Tyron was next after Rusty that hot sweaty dusty day in a claustrophic wedge on the ground. He writhed. He shouted. He spat at the police coming for all he knew to torture him next.
None of this came out at the bail hearing in fairly remote Jabiru Local Court as Magistrate Lowndes (if memory serves) saw a scruffy man break down in tears incapable of articulating let alone give me instructions. Poor bastard. I interjected angrily and the Magistrate cut me dead, one more word and I would be out the door or in the cell with him.
I also recall a quick whip around from that so called scruffy bunch producing a $1,000 cash for his bail in case that would please the court. But the cops had to win one out of 106. A million dollars wouldn't have been enough in that politically charged atmosphere.
He spent 30 days in Berrimah Gaol a model inmate until the NT Legal Aid lawyers got jack of this injustice applying to the court with the obvious point that he had served longer in jail without bail than his charges could reasonably deliver in prison sentence if found guilty.
Tyron was my only loss out of many contested bail hearings, out of 106 arrests in that chapter. Jabiluka uranium mine was eventually shut down not least by traditional Aboriginal owner Yvonne Margarula.
It was this same week at Jabiru for Tyron and others' bail applications, I received a precious gift - the fresh morning smile of a 40,000 year culture via traditional owner Yvonne Margarula as she strode proudly to court on her own 'trepass' charge alone to meet her lawyers: She appeared from nowhere, and at first I was flummoxed, even though I had met her once before in Sydney at the Friends of the Earth office with Jacqui Katona right at the start, when Gini Stein (ABC) did a one word interview with her (English being a 3rd language). God gave me some grace as I offered from deep somewhere "good luck Yvonne", just three words across a massive cultural divide, and her response was silent friendly radiance. You can have your Queen of England and your U2 rock idols, that was it for me. I swear it kicked me like a strong black coffee for the next 3 weeks of hard slog.
I understand it was partly my 12 or so page legal report to the Gundjemi Aboriginal Corporation amongst others of the state of play of 400 plus protest cases (several involving illegal police brutality, and one a sexual harrassment situation by an unknown policeman), that encourged the TO's and allied civil society stakeholders to wind down the protest camp and move to a new political phase of their ultimately winning campaign. I still have the huge red yellow and black flag there of one protester (Dave Kennedy, now deceased).
I learnt from that period you could spit on someone out of reasonable fear of torture in Mr Gibb's case, and still go to gaol for 30 days having been convicted of absolutely nothing. It all comes down to context.
I visited him once there in Berrimah Gaol in Darwin a long way from Jabiru about a week in. After returning to Sydney and Waverley Council duties to a commendation from the Mayor Paul Pearce, I was greatly relieved to be told Legal Aid intervened to get him out. Yvonne Margarula is my hero there at Jabiluka, and so is activist Tyron Gibb. They have a common thread too - survival.
By Tom McLoughlin, solicitor in NSW, NT court approved legal adviser to some 106 Jabiluka protesters July 1998 at Jabiru local court. The holding cell at Jabiru was designed to hold a maximum of 16.
Is Tim Dick a sloppy legal reporter?
Notice the report in The Sydney Morning Herald above, doesn't refer to alleged racial taunts made at the arrested man by the transit police but they do mention this provocation in The Australian newspaper here:
Magistrate faces acquittal probe
"Ms O'Shane said they had racially abused Mr Rose."
If true, the fact that Tim Dick at the Herald left out a critical aspect of the factual matrix of the case being racial discrimination which in fact is a cause of action with the Anti Discrimination Board here in Sydney, reported in the SMH recently for expensive damages orders as here:
is very bad reporting work.
But Tim Dick probably doesn't even read his own newspaper. It ran on page 3 28th December 2006.
Magistrate Oshane probably saved the NSW taxpayer a $10,000 cross action against the State Rail authorities.
Now it comes out that Tim Dick admits he wasn't in the court at all despite the "legal affairs reporter" byline. I rang Tim Dick to enquire why is their no mention of racist provocation in the Herald story, but there is in The Austrlaian.
Apart from calling me an "idiot" and scorning my legal qualification, I quote Tim Dick in words to the effect of:
"the reason I didn't put in any element about provocation was because I wasn't in the court, the only reporter there was the Daily Telegraph and I'm not going to rely on them"
Fact is the Daily Telegraph doesn't seem to have anything about racist provocation either online in this story of January 16th:
so no guidance there. Is Tim Dick throwing out a red herring? I will go back to the paper version at the local library for 16th January and see if the SDT refers to racial provocation like sister paper The Australian as a sound basis for the acquittal. It should have been mentioned in a balanced story.
If there was racial provocation that's a big problem for the State Rail Authority too, and contrary to tub thumping by ALP Police Minister Watkins the magistrate may well have saved the public revenue from an expensive legal cross claim. Or not now that he is pursuing her acquittal which may not be very smart.
Time will tell. But my view of Tim Dick as a so called "Legal Affairs Reporter" is reinforced: Not a very good one in my view.
Postscript #3 Seems the elusive "breaking news" original Daily Telegraph report of 16th of January (which I read and then lost on the screen said to be by the only journo in the court) which the above SDT 16th Jan opinion piece is based on, and Herald too via Tim Dick, doesn't have anything about racial provocation one way or the other and is irrelevant to why Tim Dick left the element out of his report.
Looks like the Australian reporter Simon Hayes did some leg work to get a response from Magistrate O'Shane as is quite proper before publishing while Herald and Telegraph were too slack. We await Hayes return call if any.
Postscript #4: A call to the Chief Magistrates Office of Graeme Henson, and a chat to Media Officer Angus Huntsdale, indicates their office will be looking at the transcript of the case to see if evidence of racial provocation was involved in the acquittal, and thus if effectively OShane has spared the public revenue the embarrassment of an expensive Anti Discrimination Board hearing and expensive payout.
Or maybe not now, as the Magistrate acquitting the defendant is in trouble and the defendant may want to get his pound of flesh on her behalf now too? Minister Watkins could well have this attack, as a non lawyer blow up in his face for exposing State Rail to a $10K racial abuse legal claim against their transit officers according to The Australian report referencing Magistrate OShane.