• “He’d be playing footy, going to school doing all the things that kids should be doing." (Tamica Mullaley)Source: Tamica Mullaley
The mother of murdered baby Charlie is pleading with the West Australian government to launch a parliamentary inquiry after requests for a coronial inquest were denied.
Sarah Collard

30 Oct 2020 - 1:31 PM  UPDATED 2 Nov 2020 - 1:30 PM

Yamatji woman, Tamica Mullaley has called for an inquest into her son’s murder after a series of bungles led to delays in trying to locate the 10-month-old boy. 

A legal challenge to trigger a coronial inquest was declined in June this year after a judge found it was not “necessary or desirable in the interest of justice".

In March 2013, baby Charlie was kidnapped in Broome by Ms Mullaley’s abusive partner Mervyn Bell and tortured for over 15 hours.

Ms Mullaley, a victim of domestic violence, had suffered a violent assault which left her bleeding and naked, but was arrested when police were called to the scene after she was deemed to have become agitated towards police.

Ms Mullaley was subsequently taken to hospital in handcuffs.

That night, her father, Ted Mullaley, had requested police take the child away from the crime scene. The police failed to intervene, and the baby was abducted by Mr Bell, who then sexually assaulted and murdered Baby Charlie the next day.

The baby suffered multiple broken bones, internal bleeding and burns to his body before later being located in Karratha - more than 1,000 kilometres away. 

A Corruption and Crime Commission investigation found authorities took hours to act on the information, and issued the wrong licence plate details for the car Bell was driving.

In 2014, Bell was convicted of the murder and sexual assault of the toddler and he later killed himself in prison. 

Ms Mullaley told NITV News a parliamentary committee inquiry should also investigate her son’s murder and the police response in the critical hours before and after his death.

“The whole system is wrong, I think if they did an inquiry into Charlie’s death maybe this wouldn’t happen to anyone else and what me and my family have been through,” she said.

“The whole system has let us down. They placed him back in a house where he was at risk, it was wrong.” 

The mother of four said she believed there were a series of failures which led to her son being killed. 

“This could have been prevented if police did their job that night. They’re not listening to us, we just want some answers and being made accountable,” Ms Mullaley said. 

The whole system has let us down. They placed him back in a house where he was at risk, it was wrong

The National Justice Project’s George Newhouse says the WA government should launch an inquiry after the state’s Attorney General John Quigley approved a parliamentary inquiry into the Margaret River mass shooting which saw four children, their mother and their grandmother shot dead. 

The family were slain by Peter Miles in Osmington just outside of the popular tourist and surfing destination, Margaret River, in the south of WA. 

Mr Newhouse said both families deserved answers. 

“The Coroner has refused to hold an inquiry in both cases but the family of Baby Charlie do not understand why his family is being treated differently,” said Mr Newhouse.

“This goes to the heart of how domestic violence victims are treated - how a young baby could be left behind at a crime scene and a perpetrator can then get access to that child. 

“We’ve asked the Attorney General to step in - he’s stepped in with the Margaret River case, but not in this case.” 

Dr. Hannah McGlade, spoke to the National Justice Project following the Attorney General’s decision to announce an inquiry into the Margaret river murders.

The Associate Professor at Curtin University and Noongar woman has been advocating for the Mullaley family and said the case highlighted systematic failures in the system.

She said it was shocking that an Inquest had been refused by the Supreme Court as violence against Indigenous women and children was a human rights matter of international concern.

“There still has not been justice for the family and the police involved  have not yet been held to account. While the CCC had undertaken an inquiry, the outcome was disappointing and a recent parliament inquiry into CCC showed they were failing to properly respond to police violence against Aboriginal people and were not engaging properly with the Aboriginal community.”

Dr. McGlade, who is a member of the UN Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues, also said that the UN treaty bodies had a role to play as  Aboriginal people are not seeing justice happen in Australia.

Women’s safety advocate and Noongar woman, Dorinda Cox, said an investigation was urgently required.

“Aboriginal family violence victims are treated differently - across the whole system but in particular by police.

“We need to look at those systemic issues in more detail… This is not an isolated case," she said. 

“We need an inquiry. Having a parliamentary inquiry will point us in the right direction about how we can make systemic changes and reforms.” 

Ms Cox is the lead candidate for the Greens in the upcoming federal election and said too many Indigenous women and children are facing unacceptable violence. 

She said more needed to be done at a national and state level to ensure Indigenous women and children are safe from violence.

“The absolute rate of hospitalisation, injury and homicide speaks volumes - we need direction and leadership from a state and federal level.” 

In a statement to NITV News the WA Attorney General office said while both "heartbreaking and tragic", there were key differences in the cases. 

One of which was the subsequent suicide of the Margaret River perpetrator - who would never be brought to justice. 

“There has not been and will never be a prosecution because the killer is dead,” a spokeswoman for the Attorney General said.

“Given the lack of any other forum to examine the Osmington tragedy and hopefully learn lessons from history in that case, the Attorney General supported an inquiry by a committee of the parliament.”

The WA Government said there had been investigations into baby Charlie’s death including a Corruption and Crime Commission inquiry which examined police actions. 

Ms Mullaley said she hopes both families get the answers they deserve.

“He’d be playing footy, going to school doing all the things that kids should be doing,” she said.

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