The Royal Commission

10 August 1987
In 1987, a Royal Commission is established to investigate Aboriginal deaths that have occurred in State and Territory jails. The Royal Commission investigates all deaths in custody between January 1980 and May 1989.
SOURCE: National Archives of Australia

15 April 1991
The final Royal Commission report makes 339 recommendations, mainly concerned with procedures for persons in custody, liaison with Aboriginal groups, police education and improved accessibility to information.

Doomadgee's Death

19 November 2004
At around 10:20am on Palm Island, Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley arrests Cameron Doomadgee for swearing. Forty minutes later, Doomadgee is found dead in the cell. An investigation begins later that day. Hurley claims Doomadgee tripped on a step.
SOURCE: Penguin

26 November 2004
Doomadgee's autopsy results indicate that he died from internal injuries, with the island’s pathologist claiming they are the result of "a fall". In response to the findings, riots break out on the island.
SOURCE: Penguin

November 2004
Queensland State Coroner Michael Barnes calls for a second autopsy.

11 December 2004
Cameron ‘Mulrunji’ Doomadgee’s funeral is held on Palm Island. Family, friends and some media now refer to Cameron as Mulrunji, for cultural reasons.
SOURCE: Sydney Morning Herald

The Inquest

28 February 2005
A coronial inquest into Doomadgee's death begins on Palm Island.

3 March 2005
The Doomadgee family challenge State Coroner Michael Barnes impartiality. He stands down in response.

1 August 2005
The inquest recommences, now overseen by the Deputy State Coroner, Christine Clements.
SOURCE: Penguin

27 September 2006
Clements hands down her findings. She claims Hurley lost his temper and fatally assaulted Doomadgee, and recommends Queensland DPP Leanne Clare consider laying criminal charges.
SOURCE: Penguin

14 December 2006
Clare and the Crime and Misconduct Commission announce there is not enough evidence to lay charges against Hurley.

4 January 2007
Former NSW Chief Justice Sir Laurence Street starts review of the DPP's decision.
SOURCE: Sydney Morning Herald

16 January 2007
Witness Patrick Bramwell commits suicide.
SOURCE: The Daily Telegraph

25 January 2007
Street, and independent barrister Peter Davis SC, determine that there is enough evidence to prosecute Hurley for charges of assault and manslaughter.
SOURCE: Courier Mail

5 February 2007
Hurley is charged with one count each of manslaughter and assault of Doomadgee.
SOURCE: News.com.au

The Trial

12 June 2007
Hurley trial begins in Townsville Supreme Court. Palm Islanders and police attend.
SOURCE: Sydney Morning Herald

15 June 2007
Pleading not guilty, Hurley testifies in his own defence. He says he has “come to terms with the fact he caused the death”, but denies intention to cause harm.
SOURCE: ABC and News.com.au

20 June 2007
In less than four hours, the jury returns a verdict of not guilty in the Hurley trial, acquitting him of manslaughter and assault charges.

9 October 2008
Hurley launches an appeals to have the deputy coroner's findings overturned.
SOURCE: Brisbane Times

18 December 2008
Hurley wins his appeal. Townsville District Judge Bob Pack orders that the State Coroner direct another Coroner to reopen the inquest into Doomadgee’s death.

14 May 2010
In the third coronial inquest, Queensland deputy chief magistrate Brian Hine finds that there is no evidence that Hurley intentionally inflicted the fatal injuries.
SOURCE: The Australian

17 June 2010
The Crime and Misconduct Commission finds that the two police investigations into Doomadgee’s death were flawed.


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that this website contains images and voices of deceased people.

More SBS videos


-2011 AWGIE Award for Best Documentary, Public Broadcast
-Best Documentary at the ImagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival 2011
-Walkley Award Long-form Journalism: Documentary

-Public Broadcast Documentary Category, Australian Writers Guild Awards 2011
-Best Feature Length Documentary in the inaugural Samsung AACTA Awards (a continuum of the Australian Film Institute Awards) 2011
-2011 Documentary / AACTA Award for Best Direction in a Documentary
-2011 Documentary / AACTA Award for Best Cinematography in a Documentary
-2011 Documentary / AACTA Award for Best Editing in a Documentary

-Toronto International Film Festival 2011
-International Documentary Festival Amsterdam
-Palm Springs Film Festival
-ImagineNative Film Festival
-Brisbane Film Festival
-Adelaide Film Festival


SBS Shop

The Tall Man (DVD)

The Tall Man (DVD)

When Cameron Doomadgee was found dead in his cell, police claimed he had tripped on a step... DVD out now.

Buy Now
The Tall Man (Book)

The Tall Man (Book)

Chloe Hooper’s award winning account of the clash of two worlds - and a haunting moral puzzle that no reader will forget.

Buy Now