Justice Denied: The Battle For Bowraville Rages On


Tomorrow, the Aboriginal community of Bowraville will once again lead a protest at NSW Parliament over decades of inaction around the murders of three of their children. Karla McGrady weighs in.

There is an old saying that actions speak louder than words, but in the case of the 26-year long battle for justice for the three murdered Bowraville children, it can be said that the inaction speaks volumes about the blatant racism undermining the criminal justice system in New South Wales.

Why has it been so hard to bring a serial killer to justice?

Why is it that we must fight against a system that supposedly exists for our benefit, to put a serial killer behind bars where he belongs?

Why is there such a fierce determination from government officials to protect a perpetrator from facing trial in this country? And why is it that these same government officials have shown little to no regard for the three families that only want to see a killer removed from society?

Why must the families of the victims still live without closure?

Colleen Walker-Craig, Clinton Speedy-Duroux and Evelyn Greenup were murdered in Bowraville – a small community where everybody knew each other and where a serial killer couldn’t hide for long – so why is it that we are still waiting for justice to be served?

new matilda, muriel walker
Muriel Craig Walker, with a picture of her daughter Colleen.

“Three kids from the same community ­ living in the same street, murdered over a five-month period and no-one has been called to account,” Inspector Gary Jubelin told a NSW parliamentary inquiry in 2014.

Here we are, two years on from that inquiry and still no-one has been called to account.

Twenty-four years after the murders of Colleen, Evelyn and Clinton, a NSW parliamentary inquiry handed down numerous recommendations and whilst some of these have been implemented, the one thing our families want is for the government to act and pave the way for justice to be served.

The inquiry found that:

  • The original investigation had been plagued by racism and prejudice that saw crucial evidence mishandled or not collected at the time of the disappearance of each child;
  • The victims were stereotyped by police, who initially claimed a four-year-old child ‘went walkabout’, and then failed to obtain any evidence from the house where she disappeared;
  • In Colleen’s case the assumption was again made that she had left of her own accord. Police suggested to the family she may have left because she was pregnant. Under no circumstances would assumptions like this be made about children who were not Aboriginal. The question remains, ‘Why are the lives of our kids worth less than other children?’ That is the message that is being sent out to the families of the victims, and every Aboriginal person in Australia, when you look at what happened in Bowraville, and why we are still awaiting justice.

The victims’ families have had to live with the actions or rather inaction of the NSW police after our children were murdered. The criminal justice system continues to fail our families, even after publicly acknowledging their numerous mistakes and prejudices. After all this after NSW ministers stood beside family members and shed tears for the victims.

After 26-years we have not gone silently into the night, like this government has allowed the killer of our children to do.

We don’t need an inquiry for memorials in parks, or to offer trauma counselling 20+ years after the fact. What the government needs to understand is that the only thing that will ease the deep pain in all of our hearts is bringing the killer to justice.

We have missed birthdays, the victims having their own families and celebrating the start of ours. There are nieces, nephews and cousins who never met them and still live with this pain. We will never have peace, but we would like justice.

Evelyn Greenup, the baby taken when she was just four-years-old, would have turned 30 this year.

Instead of her family and friends celebrating this milestone, probably with her own children too, her family is still trying to let her rest in peace.


Chris Graham is the publisher and editor of New Matilda. He is the former founding managing editor of the National Indigenous Times and Tracker magazine. In more than three decades of journalism he's had his home and office raided by the Australian Federal Police; he's been arrested and briefly jailed in Israel; he's reported from a swag in Outback Australia on and off for years. Chris has worked across multiple mediums including print, radio and film. His proudest achievement is serving as an Associate producer on John Pilger's 2013 film Utopia. He's also won a few journalism awards along the way in both the US and Australia, including a Walkley Award, a Walkley High Commendation and two Human Rights Awards. Since late 2021, Chris has been battling various serious heart and lung conditions. He's begun the process of quietly planning a "gentle exit" after "tying up a few loose ends" in 2024 and 2025. So watch this space.