Family begin to gather outside the Alice Springs Court this morning.
By KIERAN FINNANE
Life in gaol, never to receive visitors: that’s the punishment the family of J. Pollard see fit for his cruel killers.
In the Supreme Court today four men pleaded guilty to causing his death recklessly: they are Kasman Andy, Lawrence Colin, Christopher Daniel and Mervyn Wilson. They, and two others, had previously been charged with murder.
Mr Pollard’s death on February 18, 2013 was a protracted ordeal for which only paltry motivation was offered: one man had been humiliated by him in a physical altercation; another (his uncle Mervyn Wilson) had heard he’d had disrespectful things to say about him; there were vague allusions to payback for a killing.
Crown Prosecutor Stephen Robson sought to “clear the air” about this last: it concerns the death of a young woman at Abbott’s Camp on Christmas Eve 2012. Her partner, Sebastian Kunoth, was convicted of her manslaughter. Mr Pollard was not present at the killing, said Mr Robson – he was in gaol at the time and was not released until a few days before his own death. And far as Mr Robson is aware, he was not even related to Mr Kunoth, although they had grown up in the same community.
But that didn’t stop Mr Pollard being chased down at Ilparpa Camp where he was walking with his wife, beaten, likely stabbed for the first of many times, dragged into the offenders’ car, stripped naked, and taken to Charles Creek where a mob awaited him. The four knew that, according to the agreed Crown facts, and knew that there was a substantial risk of other people getting involved in the beating. Each of them “was aware of a substantial risk of [Mr Pollard] dying” at Charles Creek.
A “pack mentality” took over, said Mr Robson. It was very difficult to draw a line between the actions of a principal offender and those of aiders and abettors for the various injuries inflicted on Mr Pollard.
Between them they delivered multiple incisional/stab/puncture wounds to his head and fractured his jaw; eight incisional/stab/puncture wounds in the back; three to the left arm; one to a left finger; three to the sole of the right foot; three to the right shin; three to the left shin; one to the left foot; one to the outer left thigh; a stab wound to the inside right thigh, measuring 19 x 8mm; numerous abrasions and bruising; they fractured his left sixth rib and his sternum; they “transected” the femoral artery with a stab wound judged to be 55cm in depth.
At one stage an unknown offender poured petrol or similar onto Mr Pollard’s pubic region and set it alight, though the flames were quickly doused by someone else.
At times Mr Pollard called out for help and there was clapping and cheering amongst the mob – so say the agreed Crown facts.
A woman, Rosemary James, the wife of Mervyn Wilson, threw a bottle and struck the Mr Pollard in the head. A warrant is out for her arrest. A man, Paul Andy, was dealt with in the Magistrates Court last week for his assault on Mr Pollard, sentenced to eight months.
Appearing alongside the four today was Silas Raggett who pleaded guilty to aggravated assault. He had driven the car with the four to Ilparpa Camp where he punched Mr Pollard twice in the face, but once back at Charles Creek he had walked off.
Two further men were in the dock during the committal hearing into these crimes in March last year. They were Grant Inkamala and Robert Daniel. Both pleaded guilty in December to being accessory after the fact and were sentenced to 12 months. At that stage they had been in gaol for almost twice that.
Mr Pollard seemed to be lifeless when he was wrapped in a blanket, placed on the back seat of the car used earlier and driven towards the North Stuart Highway, where his body was dumped in a gully by the road. The car was set alight and the perpetrators – Kasman Andy at this stage and at least two others – decamped on foot. The partially decomposed body was discovered by a passing cyclist in the evening of 20 February.
The court today was packed with Mr Pollard’s family. Each of the accused was said to be remorseful. Lawrence Collin stood and faced the family from the dock, apologising to them in Luritja. It was received in stony silence. Relatives of the accused were also present.
Unsurprisingly, the scene of Mr Pollard’s death was awash with alcohol. He himself was very drunk (.129% blood alcohol). I gave a detailed account of the drinking on the night in my reports from the committal hearing.
There were submissions made in court today about how the role of alcohol might be considered, whether in mitigation or in aggravation, or whether the two cancel each other out. Justice Stephen Southwood gets to decide. He will sentence the five men for what he has already described as “a horrendous crime” on 20 March.
Payback: six in court accused of beating man to death in Alice Springs This report contains the links to all reports from the committal hearing.