Thursday, October 1, 2020

Derek Bromley: South Australia: International Wrongful Conviction Day - October 2, 2020: (Part 1): Free Derek Bromley; 37 years in prison to date mainly because of Dr. Colin Manock - the state's sorely flawed, unqualified, untrained, incompetent top forensic 'expert' of the time (Australia's Charles Smith)...Derek Bromley is an innocent man.




Derek Bromley was sentenced to life in prison, with a non-parole period of 32 years, for the murder of Stephen Docoza, whose body was found floating in the River Torrens in Adelaide in  April 1984. 

He is an innocent man. 

Now 64, he has already been in prison for 37 years.

He has contested his innocence from the outset - some  40 years ago.

He exhausted his statutory rights of appeal decades ago.

He could have been released on parole years ago but only if he  had admitted that he was guilty - which he adamantly refused to do - stating that he would rather die in prison   than submit to a false allegation. A powerful sign of innocence in my books.

A co-accused was released in 2004. (That's 16 years ago.)

He holds the unenviable distinction of being the longest serving aboriginal in Australia's history.


His  conviction is primarily due to Dr. Colin Manock - who I have characterised in the past  as  'Australia's  Charles Smith'. Bromley's lawyers contend that Manock's finding  that the deceased had died by drowning, and that several bruises he found on the deceased's body  had occurred within 24 hours of the man's death,  were  rejected by three expert witnesses who  testified that the finding of drowning could not be substantiated  - and  criticisms were also  raised as to the manner in which Manock investigated the deceased's body. The second pillar of the prosecution's case -  a wobbly pillar at that - was the eyewitness account of the man who implicated him, who was at the time suffering from schizophrenia;

Like Charles Smith, Colin Manock has been found by tribunals and courts over the years to be unqualified, untrained, and incompetent - and, like Charles Smith,  he has left behind a trail of wrongful convictions, destroyed lives, and shattering of confidence in their respective criminal justice systems behind them.

Unqualified:  Untrained,  Incompetent:...Manock, who reportedly retired in 1995 after about 30 years as South Australia's top forensic 'expert.'  should never  have been entrusted to play any role in the death investigations and criminal proceedings of Derek Bromley, Henry Keogh, and Fritz Van Beelen,  all innocent men who he helped  in a major way  convict and send to  prison  for life. (Or anyone else). 

As a pleading filed by Henry Keogh's lawyers noted: "There is no documentary proof of Dr Manock’s clinical qualifications and expertise. It is clear that in at least his first two years of practice in South Australia, he had no formal qualifications as a forensic pathologist. So far as we are aware he did not make that fact clear in the various cases in which he gave evidence during that period. His experience in the UK before he was appointed to the position as a forensic pathologist in South Australia is at best uncertain. Various anomalies exist, including his claim as to his appointments at Leeds University, which do not accord with the records we have been able to obtain from Leeds. “Despite our frequent requests, the Medical Board has consistently refused to check his qualifications...“It is acknowledged that Dr Manock had no formal training in histology (an essential requirement for forensic pathology) and more importantly, he consistently refused to rectify the problem."

Over to Charles Smith: As Justice Stephen Goudge  found in the report on his independent public Inquiry into many of Charles Smith's cases: "As director of the OPFPU (The Ontario Pediatric Forensic Pathology Unit) and with the active support of the OCCO (The Ontario Chief Coroner's Office) Dr. Smith became the dominant pathologist for child abuse and homicide cases in Ontario. He brought with him an impressive title and a growing reputation and, relatively quickly, came to be perceived as the authority in pediatric forensic pathology. Dr. Smith also presented himself in this way. When he testified in September, 1994, in Valin's case, for instance, Dr. Smith told the court that, as director of the OPFPU, a "unique" unit in Canada and indeed in North America, he probably performed more  pediatric forensic autopsies than anyone else in the country. In April, 1998, he told the court in Sharon's case that, given his vast experience with pediatric cases, he was more  qualified to assess a child's penetrating wounds than a forensically trained pathologist, whose primary experience would have been with adults. We now know as Dr. Smith admitted, that he was self-taught and his forensic pathology education and training were 'minimal' and "woefully inadequate." He simply did not have the specialized professional skills necessary for the work."


HOW CAN DEREK BROMLEY BE FREED? There are several avenues:

FIRST AVENUE: The Courts:  Derek Bromley's lawyers are currently  preparing an appeal on his behalf - and his lawyers are trying to pin down South Australia's top prosecution official  Director  of Public Prosecutions Martin Hinton (a form Supreme Court justice)  as  to whether  his formal position is that Manock was properly qualified, and whether he believes Manock’s “evidence” given in historic cases can be relied on.  The South Australia's Attorney General has the power to free Derek Bromley. He should exercise it without delay. (I am trying to obtain  the process of an email address for DPP Hinton, so readers can send him the  message which is the subject of this post: 'Free Derek Bromley.'  In my  experience that politicians and officials who are involved in the criminal justice process tend to  pay a bit more attention than usual  to  messages which originate from jurisdictions  beyond their borders.  

SECOND AVENUE: A public Commission: Parliamentarian Frank Pangallo is pressing for a public Commission into a half-century of justice failings in South Australia over a 50-year period, which, would include the Bromley case. Mr Pangallo invited legal academic and author  Dr. Bob Moles,  a specialist in miscarriages of justice,  to testify before a parliamentary committee. During that hearing Dr. Moles stated: "Dr Manock undertook the giving of evidence in 400 criminal trials after the state had declared that he wasn’t qualified as an expert witness. Those cases will all have to be reviewed. Dr Manock did 10,000 autopsies after the state declared that he wasn’t competent to certify cause of death. All of those autopsies would have to be reviewed and all of those families would have to be notified that their loved one was subject to an autopsy procedure by a man who wasn’t qualified.  Now, that’s a very difficult call to make, but it is a call that we must make if we are concerned about the rule of law and living in a civilised society, because otherwise the law is just going to be turned into a bit of a charade behind which we all just get on and do as we please, and that’s totally unacceptable."

I would  add from a Canadian perspective that the Goudge Inquiry proved to  be extremely important - especially in terms of closure, accountability and reform of the  criminal justice system so that future debacles will never happen. Not to hold an inquiry would have deprived Smith's many  victim's of the opportunity to learn what really happened and who enabled it to happen, would have left a terrible cloud over Ontario's criminal justice system,  and would have ripped away whatever public confidence in the system that was left. 

THIRD AVENUE:  Television documentaries are playing an important role in educating  the public about the this ugly travesty of justice. In an article headed, "Shocking scandal nobody wants to touch," published on September 26, 2020,  Bill Rowling, CEO of Civil Liberties Australia notes: "On 14 October 2020, Channel 9’s Wednesday evening crime series will highlight the more notorious and screen expose-worthy examples of Manock’s behaviour:

  • three separate deaths of babies in the 1990s, where Manock found bronchopneumonia was the cause. A later coronial inquest found all three appeared to have been abused. In one case the baby had a fractured skull;
  • an autopsy Manock carried out in the open in the main street of Mintabie, a tiny town about 1100km north-west of Adelaide, during which (according to a police officer) Manock held out a ladle full of internal body fluids of the deceased for townspeople to see, and made inappropriate remarks; and
  • the interesting relationship with his wife, who worked with clients as a “mistress/torturer” and allegedly used old equipment from the state’s forensic laboratory in her performances.
If there was more space, for comparison purposes I  would highlight one of the more 'notorious and screen-worthy' examples of Charles Smith's behaviour - the day on which he took his 11-year old son to the disinterment  of the body of a 11-month-old baby boy, in front of the deceased boy's horrified family.  Horrible. Yes. That really happened.    But it's time to wind up and put the attention where it belongs every moment that Derek Bromley remains behind bars, with a simple three-worded  message, which takes us back where we started.

'Free Derek Bromley.'



Networked Knowledge: Derek Bromley Homepage: (A well-organised vast array of informative research materials. HL)

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic"  section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to:  Harold Levy: Publisher: The Charles Smith Blog;
FINAL WORD:  (Applicable to all of our wrongful conviction cases):  "Whenever there is a wrongful conviction, it exposes errors in our criminal legal system, and we hope that this case — and lessons from it — can prevent future injustices."
Lawyer Radha Natarajan:
Executive Director: New England Innocence Project;
FINAL, FINAL WORD (FOR NOW!): "Since its inception, the Innocence Project has pushed the criminal legal system to confront and correct the laws and policies that cause and contribute to wrongful convictions.   They never shied away from the hard cases — the ones involving eyewitness identifications, confessions, and bite marks. Instead, in the course of presenting scientific evidence of innocence, they’ve exposed the unreliability of evidence that was, for centuries, deemed untouchable." So true!
Christina Swarns: Executive Director: The Innocence Project;