NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman has applied to the High Court to overturn the “shattering” decision not to retry a man on charges of murdering Indigenous children in Bowraville.
It is the latest instalment in a legal saga spanning three decades and which has included two police investigations, two trials, three coronial inquests and a parliamentary inquiry.
The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was previously acquitted at separate trials of murdering two of the children: Evelyn Greenup, 4; and Clinton Speedy-Duroux, 16.
If he were retried, it would have set a national precedent challenging historic ‘double jeopardy’ protections but last week the application was rejected by the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal.
No one has ever been charged with the murder of 16-year-old Colleen Walker, and the families were hoping all three cases could be heard together.
Mr Speakman said last week's decision came as a blow to the families after years of “frustration, distress and delay”.
Speaking to reporters in Sydney, he confirmed he made an application for special leave to appeal to the High Court.
"I wouldn't be making this application unless I believed there were prospects for success," Mr Speakman said.
“This has been a terrible case for the Bowraville families.
“It is case where initially the criminal justice system let down three Aboriginal children and their families.”
Colleen’s mother Muriel Walker told NITV Radio earlier this week her body shook with emotion when the court handed down its decision.
“My mind went blank and I just got up and walked out,” Ms Walker said.
The latest legal development coincided with a demonstration in Sydney today calling for justice for the murdered children and their families.
Clinton's cousin Jasmin Speedy said the turnout at the rally showed how strong the families were.
“No matter what the outcome was last Thursday we’re still here and we’re still going to fight,” she told NITV News.
“Every time we get let down, we always walk away with our head held down but we always come back."
Sarah Mitchell, the NSW Aboriginal Affairs Minister, has met with the families and kept them informed about the state government’s legal efforts.
“Obviously the whole process has been a bit of a roller coaster for them in particular, processing what’s gone on in the last week,” she said.
“We will continue to provide support to the families throughout this process and make any support available to them that they made is as we take the next steps in the days and weeks ahead.”