The Smith cousins tragically passed away over three decades ago. Can you believe a coroner found racism muddled up the investigation into their deaths?

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun9,2024
Warning: this article contains distressing details, and also the name and images of Aboriginal people who are deceased.
A coronial inquiry into the deaths of two Bourke cousins has found there were ‘serious failings’ by police during the initial investigation.
The bodies of Mona Lisa Smith, 16, a Murrawarri and Kunja girl, and Jacinta Rose “Cindy” Smith, 15, a Wangkumara girl, were found at the site of a car crash on December 6 1987.
A white man, Alexander Grant, was also in the car at the time, but escaped with minor injuries.

Evidence suggested that Mr Grant had provided the girls, then 16 and 15 years old respectively, with copious amounts of alcohol before the three took to the car.

In the days that followed, police conducted a “wholly and … inexplicably deficient” investigation that failed to lay any charges.
State Coroner Teresa O’Sullivan said it was a vindication for the families.
“This inquest – held because of the unrelenting advocacy of Mona and Cindy’s families – was their final hope to obtain answers about the circumstances of the deaths of their beloved girls,” wrote O’Sullivan in her findings.
“[Their] concerns … were entirely vindicated by the evidence received in this inquest [but] those concerns were repeatedly dismissed.”
O’Sullivan also found that racism was a significant factor in the failings of the initial police investigation.

“The uncomfortable truth, to my mind, is that had two white teenage girls died in the same circumstances, I cannot conceive of there being such a manifestly deficient police investigation into the circumstances of their deaths,” she wrote.

Investigators initially believed Grant’s account that Mona had been the one driving his Toyota 4WD ute, despite the vehicle having a manual transmission – which her family told police she did not know how to use.
Grant, who died in 2017, was acquitted of driving-related offences relating to the incident during a 1990 criminal trial.
A further charge of indecently interfering with a corpse was dropped before the trial due to difficulties with establishing the timing of Cindy’s death based on the obtained evidence.
In a statement to the inquiry, Mona’s mother June Smith said the family received no support during or after the criminal trial.
“The trial wasn’t explained,” she said.
“We didn’t even know why he got acquitted. It didn’t feel fair or right.
“It felt like the police were the judge, the jury and the prosecutor.”
In her findings, O’Sullivan added it was clear during the initial police investigation that the girl’s families were not dealt with in an appropriate or respectful manner.
Among several recommendations, Ms O’Sullivan said police should receive training about the cultural perspectives and ongoing impact of colonisation on Aboriginal people today.
Aboriginal Counselling Services 0410 539 905
1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

National Sexual Abuse and Redress Support Service 1800 211 028

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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2 thoughts on “The Smith cousins tragically passed away over three decades ago. Can you believe a coroner found racism muddled up the investigation into their deaths?”
  1. It’s absolutely heartbreaking to see how racism played a role in compromising justice for the Smith cousins. The fact that the police investigation was influenced by racial bias is deeply troubling. This case highlights the urgent need for accountability and reform within law enforcement. May Mona Lisa and Jacinta Rose rest in peace, and their families find the closure they deserve.

  2. Do you think the findings of racism influencing the investigation will lead to any accountability for those involved?

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