A request for a single inquest into the “tragically similar” deaths of four young Aboriginal men – including Gomeroi teenager Mark Haines – has been referred to the NSW coroner’s court.
Their bodies were all found on or nearby railway tracks in rural New South Wales in the 1980s and 1990s.
Police re-opened the investigation into Haines’ death - which was the subject of the award-winning NITV and Buzzfeed documentary Cold Justice – but no arrests have been made despite a $500,000 reward.
David Shoebridge, the NSW Greens MP who referred the cases to the coroner, is cautiously optimistic about an inquest being approved.
“The deaths were basically written off as suicides without anything like an adequate investigation,” he told NITV.
“We believe there’s a compelling case for the coroner to re-open these cases, to hear them together, because the coincidences, the similarities, are so striking.”
Family members protested outside the Tamworth police station this week to mark the 31st anniversary of his Haine's death.
Detective Acting Inspector Jason Darcy, Oxley Police District acting crime manager, said its investigation into Haines’ death remained a high priority.
“It is protracted and if it takes a length of time to do that, then it will have to be that long,” he told Tamworth's Northern Daily Leader.
“I’m not going to apologise for the way it’s going.
“There’s no quick fix for these things. They are protracted and, if we rushed through, then we would be criticised for rushing and missing things.”
Mr Shoebridge believes there is a compelling case for a coronial inquest.
“We know there are a series of witnesses that are not fully cooperating with police and the coronial court has the power to compel those witnesses to give evidence, unlike the police,” he said.