Where is the Kevin Henry case at the moment?
"Currently we are investigating two modes of aims. The first is to get the governor to pardon Kevin, and we consultation with the governor on this and we are giving as much information as we can on this. The other is going through the regular parole process, but Kevin has had numerous parole requests denied in the past by the Queensland parole board, quite unfairly I should add. But there has been a number of issues with the Queensland parole board that have been identified in the past, specifically in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples."
How likely is it that Kevin will receive an official pardon and release?
"Its very difficult to say how likely he will be released and pardoned, but if he were to, he would be the longest serving incorrectly jailed person in Australia, so we would be making legal history if that were to be the case. We are also dealing with a small Queensland town and that means that there are not a lot of people we can speak to, so we are looking at the case over and over again, but I am fully convinced of Kevin's innocence."
Whats the process to get him pardoned?
"They are long and complicated as we have to detail all of the evidence to the governor, so that means detailing what Kevin was doing before the incident, what happened in the police investigation, what happened in the trial. Its basically like retrying the case in paper form."
"There is no doubt that there was racism involved"
What motivated you to work with Amy McQuire on this case?
"I've been looking at cases of Indigenous Australians that have been wrongly convicted for some time. I'd originally been working overseas on similar cases as well as death row cases in the USA and from what I saw there were many similarities, issues of race, black guys being put into prison for crimes that they didn’t do. So this case presented the same as many others that id been on before. Amy was also very passionate, especially as she came from that town, and once I'd started the case and got to know what happened, got to know the people involved it became impossible to stop working at it."
What were some of your discoveries and/or any new evidence that will help this case?
The main key discovery was that Kevin actually has a complete alibi, there was no forensic evidence of him at the crime and that shows that Kevin couldn’t have even been there. But also using modern crime solving techniques, some which come from the UK we have been able to identify that he wasn’t involved. But we are also getting other witness statements that are for other people. What is remarkable is that all of this evidence was available at the time.
Why was Kevin wrongly convicted do you believe?
"Look there is no doubt that there was racism involved and that it definitely played a part. In fact, the police were heard to say they needed to ‘get a black for a black’. More remarkably another person was said to have spoken to a solicitor saying that they had committed the crime, and when this was passed onto the police they told them to go away. Eventually Kevin was forced to say that he committed the crime. At his trial the judge had to dismiss 80 per cent of the confession as it was seen to be made falsely. So yes I think that A) race played a huge factor and that evidence was ignored, and B) the jury convicted Kevin despite him having no involvement in the murder. So the main thing was that racism was definitely involved. And this it should be noted was straight after the Fitzgerald inquiry which showed large amounts of racism in the Queensland police force at the time. Even the Queensland police commissioner was jailed off of the back of the inquiry."
How is Kevin's family handling all of this?
"They are struggling. Over the last 25 years several members of Kevin's family have died, so they want him home. His mother and some of his aunties are also unwell, so they want to have him home before they pass away. They also just want to see him get to have a life after seeing him in prison for so long. Kevin just wants to get home and return to country."
Kevin's parole requests have been denied a few times now, why is this?
"Well there have been flaws in the parole system, even the Queensland government has admitted as much. The parole laws for the state were written back in 1937 when Aboriginal people were almost treated at slaves in the state. So the problem is that these parole laws don’t deal with some of the many issues that regularly face Indigenous peoples (i.e.: fragile x syndrome, etc). Their parole system also has an inability to understand why prisoners have a maintenance of innocence even if they have been convicted of the crime. It’s the only state in the country like this. Other states also have denial programs, and Kevin has done as many programs as he can that are similar to this, but the Queensland government wont accept that he wont accept any guilt. The Queensland government is overhauling its parole system but that’s going to take time, and we don’t want to see Kevin spend any more time in prison as it is, so that’s why we are pushing so hard on this.
What happens in the event that this latest attempt to have him freed fails?
"Well we won't stop until we have Kevin free. We will go to the federal parliament, or to the high court. And we will also consider any options of redress in the event that it fails. But the evidence shows that he's innocent. So I won't countenance to believe in anything else until he is free as he should be."