Late last year, politicians of all stripes came together on an emotional and apolitical day in NSW Parliament, to table a report calling for justice for the families of three Aboriginal children murdered on the NSW mid north coast more than two decades ago.
Three months on, the NSW Greens are calling on all parties to commit to implementing the recommendations of the report which, after a series of knockbacks, is seen as the last chance to get the man accused of the crimes back on the stand.
In a few months between 1990 and 1991, Colleen Walker Craig, Evelyn Greenup and Clinton Speedy Duroux, went missing from the same road on Bowraville mission.
There has only ever been one man accused of the crimes – a non-Indigenous man – who was acquitted of Clinton and Evelyn’s murder in two separate trials. Colleen has never been found.
The families have always maintained the three trials should be combined into one, because of the striking similarities between the cases.
In 1993, a Supreme Court judge ruled against linking the trials of Clinton and Evelyn, meaning key evidence was omitted. The man charged was subsequently acquitted of Clinton’s murder.
But the families have never tired in their two-decade long fight to get the man before court.
In 2006, the families succeeded in having the state’s double jeopardy laws overturned – a potential world first.
But the former state Attorneys General John Hatzistergos and Greg Smith both rejected calls to reopen the trial after the families lodged applications which produced “fresh and compelling” evidence.
After Mr Smith knocked back their application to send the evidence back to the Court of Criminal Appeal, the families protested outside state Parliament House and achieved a small victory representing one last shot of justice – a parliamentary inquiry into the family response from the murders.
The inquiry culminated in an emotional day at state Parliament just before its last sittings in the lead up to the March election.
It was a rare day which saw a conservative stalwart, Liberal MP David Clarke, shed tears alongside Greens MLC David Shoebridge, all members unanimous in their advocacy for justice for the grieving families – who stretch from Bowraville, to Tenterfield to Sawtell and even into Queensland.
The committee handed down 15 recommendations which were all supported. Two recommendations are designed to remove the roadblocks that have prevented the accused man from being re-charged with the murders of the three children.