After nine years, WA Gov apologises to family of Baby Charlie Mullaley

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Image: ABC

“It has taken nine years to be seen and heard by the WA government and it is time to look at the justice system and police that failed me, my Dad and my Charlie Boy” – Tamica Mullaley

Yesterday, the WA Attorney-General apologised to and pardoned the mother and grandfather of Baby Charlie Mullaley.

While Baby Charlie’s mother Tamica, his grandfather Ted and family members sat together in WA Parliament, Attorney-General John Quigley apologised to Tamica and Ted for the way they were treated by WA Police and the WA Government before and after Baby Charlie’s death in March 2013.

After nearly a decade, the WA Government has finally acknowledged the immense pain and injustice that the family has endured since Charlie Boy was abducted and killed.

Tamica and her father Ted have been pardoned for convictions that resulted from that traumatic night – an acknowledgement that WA Police should have acted differently.

Never before has the WA Government issued a pardon of this nature.

Charlie Boy Mullaley. Photo provided.

Apologising in Parliament via video link after testing positive for COVID, Mr Quigley said:

“I have arranged for Tamica and Ted to be in Parliament today so that I can say what should have been said a long time ago. On behalf of the Government of Western Australia, Tamica and Ted, I am sorry for the way you were treated by the Government and the WA Police both before and after losing Baby Charlie.”

Friends, this is the power of advocacy. 

The Mullaley family believe that if the police had treated Tamica as a victim of a brutal crime appropriately, then Charlie Boy might be alive today.

On the night of 19 March 2013 in Broome, WA, Tamica, a 26-year-old Yamitji mother of two, was violently assaulted by her then-partner, Mervyn Bell, and left bloodied and stripped naked on the street with a lacerated spleen and ruptured kidney.

When Broome Police were called to the scene to assist Tamica, instead of showing compassion to a traumatised victim of domestic violence, the attending officers harassed her when she told them she didn’t want them there.

When Tamica’s father Ted arrived to help his distraught daughter and provide information on Bell, the officers were rude to Ted and obstructed him from tending to Tamica and de-escalating the stand-off.

The situation spiralled out of control, culminating in an officer accusing Tamica of spitting at him. A tussle ensued and Tamica ended up face-down on the ground with a knee on her back, arrested and put in handcuffs before she was loaded into the police van, destined for lock-up.

Her father Ted begged police to take her to hospital. He followed the police van to make sure they did.

During this time, ten-month-old Baby Charlie was left in the care of Bell’s family members.

Police failed to follow protocols to secure the welfare of Baby Charlie. Police failed to treat Tamica, a victim of domestic violence, with compassion.

While Tamica was in hospital for urgent medical treatment, the unimaginable happened.
Bell returned to the scene and abducted Baby Charlie. When Ted discovered that Charlie had been taken, he repeatedly begged with police to search for Bell. They refused. 
By the time the police initiated a search nine hours later, Bell and Baby Charlie were hundreds of kilometres away. Fifteen hours after Baby Charlie was taken, Bell brought Charlie’s tiny, broken body into a roadhouse more than 900 kms away. Baby Charlie died not long after.

Tamica and Ted Mullaley speak to media in Perth after the apology.

The National Justice Project has walked with the Mullaley family since 2017 in their fight for justice and we will continue to agitate for systemic reform to ensure that a tragedy like this never happens again.
Yesterday’s apology and the pardons are just the beginning – we will keep fighting for change.
Alongside the Mullaley family, we will be asking the Australian Senate, the WA Ombudsman and the Parliamentary Inspector to investigate the way that the WA Coroner, the WA Police, the WA Police Internal Affairs Unit and the Crime and Corruption Commission investigated this case, or their failures to investigate critical aspects of it.

We are also fighting for:

  • Disciplinary proceedings against the police officers who failed Baby Charlie
  • Access to the police files, videos, photos and records about the Baby Charlie Case
  • Accountability for the racist tropes about Ted and Tamica perpetuated by the WA Police Internal Affairs Unit and the Crime and Corruption Commission and their failure to investigate criticisms of the WA Police by the Mullaley family
  • Preparing a submission to the Federal Senate Inquiry into Missing and Murdered First Nations Women & Children

👉 Click here to keep up to date on the fight for justice for Baby Charlie

Media coverage

The Guardian

Seven News




National Indigenous Times

WA Today

The West Australian

Sydney Morning Herald




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