See story posted Day 4, April 3 for medical evidence which does not support account of burning to genital area.
By KIERAN FINNANE
Kumunjayi Pollard’s calvary may have included having his genitals burned. Medical evidence has not yet been given in this hearing into whether six men will stand trial for the murder of Kumunjayi Pollard, and a seventh for being accessory after the fact. But today an eyewitness, Petrina Andy, told the Alice Springs Magistrates Court that she had seen one of the men charged with his murder getting petrol and burning him.
Ms Andy was answering questions through an interpreter from Christopher Daniel’s defence lawyer, Greg Betts. The interpreter was reluctant to read (presumably for cultural reasons) that part of her evidence-in-chief stating where Kumunjayi Pollard was burned, saying that it referred to “the privacy part of the body”.
The court has previously heard that Kumunjayi Pollard was naked at the time of the attacks on him in Charles Creek.
Other witnesses to the events there on the night of February 18, 2013 have not referred to the burning. Ms Andy also admitted to having been drinking heavily on the day. She started at around 10 in the morning and was still going at night, drinking beer and Jim Beam. She estimated that she had drunk half of a “four corner” – a one litre bottle – on top of the beer.
Initially, she insisted that she had seen Christopher Daniel “with my eyes” (pointing to them) siphon petrol from a car into a beer can and use it to burn Kumunjayi Pollard: “Christopher burned him in the private areas,” she asserted, in face of Mr Betts’ suggestions that it was dark, she was very drunk, there were lots of people, and she may have been confused.
Eventually though she seemed to admit that this was so. Mr Betts put to her, “You didn’t see what Christopher Daniel was doing,” and she said, through the interpreter, “I didn’t really saw, I was really drunk.” It wasn’t clear though whether this was referring to not having seen the burning, or not having seen the siphoning of petrol from the car.
She had also spoken of seeing co-accused Mervyn Wilson get water from the houses in the nearby town camp to douse the fire.
Ms Andy had also told police she had seen Christopher Daniel stab Kumunjayi Pollard twice but under cross-examination admitted that it was only once and it may have been in the buttock rather than in the back or shoulder as she had told police.
She also said she had tried to help Kumunjayi Pollard – and other witnesses have given evidence that this was so. He had yelled out to her, “Petrina, help me, help me”. “Stop harming him,” she told his attackers, “Take him to hospital or Abbott’s Camp.” She said she tried to go in and stop the men but got pushed away, by three of the accused, naming them. She admitted that she may have been mistaken about two of them, but insisted that “I seen Christopher’s hand pushing me”.
The court also heard from the wife of Mervyn Wilson, Rosemary James. When men including her husband brought the badly beaten Kumunjayi Pollard back to Charles Creek Camp, her husband got out of the car and asked her, “Where’s my grog?”
She was sitting in the creek drinking. She told the court that she had already drunk a bottle of chardonnay on her own. She had more grog hidden in the scrub. She said her husband came straight to her after getting out of the car that had come from Ilparpa Camp with Kumunjayi Pollard on board.
Before she started giving evidence, Magistrate John Birch carefully explained to Ms James that she had the right to object to giving evidence against her husband, but she consented to go ahead.
She said she got the grog – “a box” – and sat down to pour it into a bottle and they started drinking it.
She said that Kumunjayi Pollard was swearing at her and she got up, telling him “I didn’t bring you here” and struck him with the bottle. (She has not been charged with any offence and by her and Ms Andy’s evidence seems not to be the only assailant who hasn’t been. The part of her statement to the police regarding what she did was not read as part of her evidence-in-chief but came out in the course of cross-examination.)
She said Mervyn Wilson had hit Kumunjayi Pollard in the face with his hand, but she never saw him with a weapon.
She described Kumunjayi Pollard as having been “pulled” and “dragged” from the car: “They were all stabbing him and punching him near the car and he was still alive,” she said.
He was lying down when her husband hit him, she said (which changes the picture of him coming straight to her from the car).
Two more people from Napperby joined in, she said, “kicking Kumunjayi as well”.
A bit later, Ms James heard her husband say “Take him to Abbott’s Camp or hospital.” Kumunjayi Pollard had family at Abbott’s Camp. But those suggestions do not seem to have been followed.
The hearing continues, with medical evidence expected tomorrow.
Pictured top: Charles Creek in the stretch alongside Schwarz Crescent, one of the locations where Kumunjayi Pollard was assaulted, dying as a result.