"Accused killer Gene Gibson said to have 'brain damage' (Paige Taylor, The Australian, 29 October 2015)
"The troubled prosecution of traditional desert Aboriginal man Gene Gibson has taken another twist, with a formidable disability advocacy group taking up his case in response to claims he pleaded guilty despite suffering brain damage as a result of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
Gibson is in a Perth jail after pleading guilty last year to the manslaughter of 21-year-old ...Josh Warneke in 2010, a crime that shocked the town of Broome because of its brutality. The case is now being investigated by Developmental Disability WA, an organisation that successfully pressured the government to transfer two mentally impaired prisoners out of jail and into a transitional justice centre on the edge of Perth.
Yesterday Developmental Disability chief executive Taryn Harvey said she was supporting Gibson’s family and looking at his case because it appeared there were systemic failures.
Gibson was found by a court-ordered doctor to have middle to low intelligence, with a verbal intelligence that was significantly lower.
But some of those who know him say that he also has fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, a condition that is difficult to diagnose but associated with profound cognitive dysfunction.
West Australian Chief Justice Wayne Martin has repeatedly said he believes there are people in the state’s jails with FASD whose lawyers deliberately did not seek a diagnosis for their clients.
This is because, under a West Australian law currently under review, people deemed unfit to plead because of a mental impairment such as FASD can be jailed indefinitely. There are several high-profile examples of adults and children with mental impairments who have been held in WA jails for longer than they would have been if they had been allowed to plead guilty.
The police investigation of Warneke’s death is widely considered flawed; police extracted a series of contradictory confessions from Gibson while interviewing him for hours without an interpreter. Gibson, who was 19 at the time of Warneke’s death, speaks fluent Pintubi but his English is limited.
The Corruption and Crime Commission is investigating. Gibson’s lawyer has since come forward to claim that a witness crucial to the defence was not revealed to the court, or to Gibson’s legal team, until after he entered his guilty plea."
Accused killer Gene Gibson said to have brain damage