WA Police officer charged with murder over Joyce Clarke shooting death in Geraldton

A police officer has been charged with murder over the fatal shooting of Joyce Clarke on a suburban street in the West Australian city of Geraldton last September. (The concept of charging the officer with murder instead of manslaughter is to ensure his acquittal - not to ensure justice.  A jury will not convict a cop of deliberately killing a person who will be described as aggressive and dangerous).

Key points:

  • Joyce Clarke was shot dead after a confrontation with police on the street
  • The family said the arrest brought back painful memories of the event
  • Ms Clarke had a troubled early life blighted by drugs and alcohol (slander the victim, who was kidnapped at birth and raised by the state).

Major Crime detectives travelled to Geraldton and arrested the male officer this morning.

He then appeared briefly in Perth Magistrates Court, where a suppression order on his identity was granted by Magistrate Mark Millington.

He will apply for bail in the WA Supreme Court later today.

The officer was wearing a singlet top and his lawyer Linda Black apologised for her client's attire, saying he had only been arrested this morning and had not had the opportunity to change.

Ms Clarke, a 29-year-old mother of one, was shot on September 17 on a street in the Geraldton suburb of Karloo.

She was taken to Geraldton Regional Hospital but died of her injuries.

Her death sparked protests outside Geraldton police station, with the local Indigenous community demanding answers.

It was this reaction that prompted Mr Millington to agree to the application for a suppression order out of concerns for the safety of the accused and his family.

Government moves to calm community

Responding to news of the arrest, WA Deputy Premier Roger Cook said he hoped the community understood the matter was being taken seriously.

"I'm really pleased that some action is taking place and I'm sure that will be of some comfort to the community," he said.

"Not necessarily with regards to the [arrest] but just that there will be a learning and a really close examining of these very sad set of circumstances.

"We've got a whole range of things to do that we need to work with in conjunction with the community for people to feel a better sense of wellbeing, whether it's in Geraldton, whether it's in Broome, across the Kimberley."

WA Attorney-General John Quigley assured everyone involved in the case that justice would be done.

"All Western Australians should be grateful that we have in Western Australia a very strong and independent judicial and justice system, completely independent from Government," he said.

Family's painful memories revived

Family spokesman Sandy Davies today said the arrest had revived painful memories of a traumatic event.

"The news this morning has now brought the family back to where they were in September 2019 and opened all those wounds again," he said.

Mr Davies said the family had been left in limbo too long.

"As far as I'm concerned this whole thing has taken far too long, six months of trauma, heartbreak this family has had to endure," he said.

He said the local Aboriginal community had suffered due to the whole situation.

"The toll has taken a great deal of pressure on the community," he said.

Struggle with demons revealed

Details of Ms Clarke's troubled early life, blighted by drugs and mental illness, emerged after her death.

She had a criminal record that stretched to 22 pages, including 13 convictions for criminal damage, and had been most recently jailed for stealing a mobile phone from a house.

Then while in custody she set fire to her cell at Greenough Regional Prison, later telling police there were "spirits" inside.

This led to more serious charges being brought against her.

During her sentencing for those charges in May last year, the Supreme Court heard the problems that haunted Ms Clarke during her life started before she was born.

Justice Lindy Jenkins said although she had not formally been assessed for foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), "a psychiatric report … satisfies me that it's more likely than not that you suffer from FASD".

Justice Jenkins noted in sentencing that Ms Clarke was placed into state care soon after she was born because her birth mother was an alcoholic and her home life was "chaotic".

Alcohol progressed to drug abuse

But the judge described "significant intellectual impairments" that were present in Ms Clarke's childhood.

She was bullied at school and "started drinking alcohol excessively at around seven years of age".

She later started using methamphetamines and sniffing petrol, and was also was recorded to have attempted to take her own life at the age of 12.

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"It was your mother's alcohol abuse which, in all likelihood, has resulted in your suffering permanent damage whilst you were an unborn child," Justice Jenkins said.

She urged prison authorities to have Ms Clarke formally assessed for FASD while she was serving her sentence.

"It would seem to me a disaster for both Ms Clarke and the community if she was simply released from this sentence without being on parole and without being supervised," Justice Jenkins said.

A Department of Justice spokesperson confirmed at the time that there was currently no routine screening for FASD in adult prisons.

Source : https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-02-20/wa-police-officer-arrested-geraldton-shooting-death-joyce-clarke/11983720

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