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HomeIssue 516 years for inflicting ‘torturous’ death on J. Pollard

16 years for inflicting ‘torturous’ death on J. Pollard

p2122-Payback-crime-scene-1By KIERAN FINNANE
UPDATED, see at bottom.
The four men who pleaded guilty to the reckless manslaughter of J. Pollard on 18 February 2013 have each been sentenced to 16 years in gaol.
Kumunjayi Pollard died a “long, brutal, torturous” death and was subjected to humiliation and degradation in “a sadistic manner”, said Justice Stephen Southwood in the Alice Springs Supreme Court today.
Kumunjayi’s pleas for help were not only ignored – his mob of assailants clapped and cheered while he was beaten to death. His body was later dumped in a gully by the North Stuart Highway and the car used was burned by the roadside (pictured).
The four men may not be responsible for all of Kumunjayi Pollard’s injuries but that “matters little”, said Justice Southwood. They knew there was a substantial risk of death resulting from their violence: that risk did not materialise in a moment, they promoted it from start to finish.
While all four men are “equally culpable”, the youngest, Kasman Andy, aged 24 year at the time, now 26, and with no prior convictions for violence, has a non-parole period of eight years.
The other three – Christopher Daniel, Mervyn Wilson and Lawrence Collin – were each described by Justice Southwood as “dangerous” by virtue of their criminal histories. Their non-parole periods were fixed at 10 years.
Daniel, now 31 years, has four prior convictions for violence and two for going armed with an offensive weapon. The day after the manslaughter he assaulted his own mother, for which he has been sentenced to ten months in the magistrates court. It will be served concurrently with the manslaughter penalty.
Wilson, aged 43 years and a chronic alcoholic, has seven prior convictions for violence, two for serious assault, one for assault on a police officer. Most of his violence has been against his current wife, Rosemary James, who also took part in the mob attack on Kumunjayi Pollard. Wilson’s most recent assault against James occurred later on the same night as Kumunjayi died.
Collin, 39 years, has nine prior convictions for violence.
Justice Southwood found that there was “not a lot by way of mitigation” for the four. He accepted the submission by the Crown that they showed little contrition or acceptance of responsibility and each had sought to minimise their role in the violence.
He found the attack on Kumunjayi Pollard was entirely unprovoked, with the offenders either unprepared or incapable of explaining why they had inflicted such a cruel end on their victim. Some of them may have been under the “misapprehension” that he was linked to an earlier death at Abbott’s Camp but they were “completely mistaken” – he was in prison at the time.
Kumunjayi Pollard’s relatives also rejected any such explanation: he was not responsible for that trouble, those men had no reason to blame him, they said in their jointly written Victim Impact Statement. What happened was “really wrong”.
“The true story needs to be heard by everyone,” they said, “so that it stops any more. We are upset all the time. It never finishes.”
Silas Raggett, who has pleaded guilty to aggravated assault on Kumunjayi Pollard, will be sentenced this afternoon.
UPDATE, Friday, 20 March 2015, 4.44pm:
Silas Raggett was sentenced this afternoon to 18 months, with no parole, for his part in the assault on J. Pollard. He drove the car, with the other four men on board, to Ilparpa Camp where they chased, beat and abducted Kumunjayi Pollard. Raggett punched the victim twice in the face. Back at Charles Creek, however, he joined his then partner and walked away.
He was 22 years old at the time. He has already served most of the sentence and will be released towards the end of May. Some of the time he has spent in gaol since his arrest for this matter has been served for another violent offence committed on 13 February 2013 – five days earlier. He has three further prior convictions for violence.


  1. What has happened to the offence of murder; “unlawfully killing another with malice aforethought, express or implied”?

  2. When does straight out murder and mob violence constitute manslaughter? What has happened to our justice system – once this would have been punishable by execution or at the least life in gaol. They will be let out to re-offend! Australia has become a soft country.

  3. At the national level for 2005–2007: Life expectancy at birth for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males is estimated to be 67.2 years.
    Therefore those who took Kumunjayi Pollard’s life should have a sentence accordingly to the years ‘span they took from their victim’s age: 20 years old = 47 years in goal, 30 years = 37 years in goal etc.
    Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise. This is justice.

  4. “The true story needs to be heard by everyone,” they said, “so that it stops any more. We are upset all the time. It never finishes.” Yes the truth needs to be exposed.
    I recently sat down at Auschwitz Birkenau for six days and I witnessed atrocities that are unimaginable – a sickness of the psyche and I believe we are all living in the shadow of that Holocaust. Many have blood on their hands. The thought that these people were capable of such atrocities is also unimaginable.
    I knew two of the offenders and I knew of members of all the families including the deceased. They were students at Papunya School – the school this paper reported as being the Centre of their Universe.
    The school had developed a community driven model of culturally inclusive education 1991-2001, guided by the AEP 21 goals and the community “Minimum requirements for Education”.
    After 10 amazing years (see the Papunya School Book of Country and History) everyone was removed from their positions, including qualified Anangu educators, the principal and teacher linguist, based on the decision to phase out bilingual education.
    Fourteen principals later and an English only program, history was re-written, peoples lives, livelihoods were destroyed, careers ended.
    This story is not exclusive to Papunya – Yuendumu, Yirrkala, NT, WA, Cape York, Yipirinya, Yirara, in fact a national agenda to mainstream to a monolingual, westcentric model was Howard’s agenda, apparently welcomed by NT.
    Students, elders, families and educational leaders were deemed redundant. Then came the intervention.
    Kumunjayi Pollard died a “long, brutal, torturous” death and was subjected to humiliation and degradation in “a sadistic manner”, said Justice Stephen Southwood in the Alice Springs Supreme Court today.
    There needs to be a judicial inquiry into the systematic destruction of models of excellence, models that include, models that empower, models that listen to the community.
    The political interventions that destroy anything that works, the removal of staff, elders families students from the decision making, the English only model that assumes a both way, two way model does not work, is flawed.
    There were no suicides, vandalism or lack of attendance during those years. The school provided a place where the community worked and learned together and everyone’s voice was heard and valued.
    In 2001 the then principal of Yirrara College commented on the positive behaviour and the academic achievement of the Papunya students who were, he said, very close to mainstream class achievements.
    So who is to be held accountable? Education is the Key??? Is it just a money making cash cow for bureaucrats and those in positions of power?
    Will lessons ever be learnt?
    My heart goes out to those families who have borne the burden of a failure of the system, to look after the children, to care for country and recognise the wisdom held within the community.

  5. Diane. But if it was all so wonderful why did an influential group of Papunya community members insist on the removal of the principal and other staff?

  6. Not so long ago I taught one of those convicted and sentenced in relation to this crime. He was a cheerful, co-operative and sprite student. He even drew a cartoon of me that I laughed at, laminated and have somewhere. I am sad at this outcome.
    Some people should never drink alcohol in any circumstances. Alcohol can make morons out of otherwise decent people.


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