REVEALED: The secrets the Wit-boooka jury wasn't told
JURY tampering was just part of the hidden story of Gympie's recent trial of three Aboriginal activists involved in a protest that turned violent at Gympie Regional Council's Mary St offices three years ago.
Disappearing evidence was another problem, which arose early for those responsible for getting at the truth behind 18 criminal charges against the Gympie Three.
These behind-the-scenes dramas have been secret, until now.
Two worlds collided when Wit-boooka (charged as Gary Tomlinson), of Southside, Diane Redden-King, of Curra, and Mervyn Tomlinson, of Bundaberg, began their three-year journey through what they claimed was a foreign justice system with no legitimacy in their country.
They cited Queen Victoria's "Bunya Proclamation”, which they said promised Aboriginal sovereignty and meant all council assets were virtually proceeds of crime.
The catch-22 of arguing this in the District Court was summed up by Judge Gary Long, who said it seemed the three were asking the court to exercise its jurisdiction to rule on whether it had jurisdiction.
Ultimately, he said, this was a question which could only be answered by another court.
The disappearance of video evidence of the "melee”, which occurred at Gympie Regional Council's Mary St offices on May 31, 2016, was another early hurdle.
Ms Redden-King complained that she had taken video which had disappeared from her phone while it was in police custody.
It is understood the recording was retrieved from "some corner of the phone,” but without its audio.
Problems did not end when the case finally came before a jury, almost two weeks ago.
Judge Bernard Porter received a confidential note from a juror, saying her husband had been anonymously phoned by someone saying she had no right to be on the jury because of an association with Mayor Mick Curran.
"I'm so scared,” she said.
That led to the first jury being discharged and another empanelled, this time with two reserve jurors. That was just as well because a member of the second jury later reported that she realised she was friends with a relative of the mayor.
Then a decision had to be made about which of the two reserve jurors would be empanelled, something which the Jury Act said had to be decided by lot. In this case, it was the toss of a coin, which the judge said was "a particularly Australian solution”.
"We'll let the lady call,” he said.
She called "heads” and won a place in one of Gympie's most difficult and complex trials.