This page is for people who want to pay tribute to someone who has died in police or prison custody.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers of this page should be aware that seeing images of deceased persons or reading their names may cause sadness or distress and in some cases may offend against cultural prohibitions.

All viewers of this page should be aware of the cultural sensitivity of some of the issues and material which it discusses. Please be aware of the sensitivities of the living relatives and friends of those whose stories are recorded here.


Eddie Murray (12.12.1959 - 06.06.82)

"Eddie's Country" by Andrew Chandler published in Green Left Weekly, 15 October 1997.

Eddie, where are you?
Are you walkabout out west
with your brother the snake;
shedding scales on the rocks
where your blood runs to the sea?
Oh Eddie, where can you be?
Are you dancing with spirits
in gleaming desert sands?
Are generations of dancers
stamping your name
and singing
your tribal lands?

Oh Eddie, have you lost your way?
Have the songlines been stolen
and buried in the clay,
where once stood a tree
whose roots were embraced
by the life blood of man?
Oh Eddie, please don't leave.
Don't let them take you into that room
with the blood and the blanket;
with the boots and the spew.
Walk back into the sun.
sit by the fire.
Dance me my country.
Sing it anew.

"And the Deaths Go On..." lyrics by Peter Kearney from his album, "Year of God's Favour."

Eddie Murray was drinking that night into day
The police picked him up and they took him away
Just one hour later he was dead in his cell
He took his own life- so police records tell.
And he's gone, gone, gone
He's gone from this valley of tears,
And the deaths go on
The dying of two hundred years.

And how it must feel to be black in this land?
When all the power is in the white hand?
And the hand can suddenly turn to a fist
When you're no-one and nothing,
you'll hardly be missed.
When you're gone, gone, gone
And even your name disappears,
And the deaths go on
The dying of two hundred years.

Robert Walker was lowered and beaten in hell.
In Broome, Dixon Green, 'dropped dead' in his cell.
John Pat in Roeburn was kicked to the ground,
They cleaned up his body, then the doctor came round.
And he's gone, gone, gone
And a people is living in fear,
And the deaths go on
The dying of two hundred years.

The Coroner spoke from his smooth, white face
'Death by Misadventure', the usual case.
Charlie Michael was bent like a bow on the floor
Till his heart just snapped, couldn't take any more.
And he's gone, gone, gone
May God wipe away all his tears,
And the deaths go on
The dying of two hundred years.

For the two hundred years since we came to this shore
The blacks have been losing an undeclared war.
One per cent of the free, they're low on the scale
But twenty per cent of the ones in the jails.
But the deaths go on
God's crying, but who wants to hear?
It goes on and on and on
The dying of two hundred years.

Listen to the song The Deaths Go On, lyrics by Peter Kearney, music and vocals by Kerry Fletcher via the SoundCloud link below.

Eddie's parents, Arthur and Leila Murray, never stopped wanting to know what really happened to their son in the police cell from the time he was apprehended until the time they learned he was dead. After Leila died in 2003, the following poem was written for her:

Leila Murray (23.12.1939- 04.04.2003)

All the ashes:
From a thousand cooking fires,
From the cigarettes
held by the rough-throated speakers,
Left by the flames that boiled the water
in a hundred coppers,
From the fires under the drums
used to heat the coloured glass
for the graves.

And the dust:
Along the roads your father was a drover on,
The floor of the house you were born in,
The floors of all your camps.
The dust you swept out of a million corners
And on the streets
you marched along in protest.
The dust in the graveyard where you will lie
where two of your children
wait already.

You knew the grit of dust and ash too well.

Ashes to ashes, they will say,
And dust to dust.
More ashes and dust.

You built walls from the dust
And lit fires from ash.
You made a warm house
And gripped love firmly.
They will also say
You fought injustice.

The song of dust and ash continues:
In every fire your eyes are bright again,
I see your determination
In every stone.

Eddie Russell

Eddie Russell died in Long Bay. The following poem was written with the thought of his parents visiting his grave in Walgett:

This place is quiet, but one sad day
We cried for Eddie here, and prayed.
For justice, hope and calm and peace,
Release from pain and tears and grief.
Some time we’ll meet again and fly,
Together to the waiting sky.

Wendy Hancock

Wendy died in Mullawa Prison. Her 'safe' cell wasn't safe and she was supposed to be observed at five minute intervals. Instead she wasn't watched at all.

She was sadly missed by her late mother Rose, and by her sister Elizabeth and late sister Mary.

John Pat

John Pat was 16 years old when he met his death in a police cell in Roebourne on 28th September 1983.

The following images of the John Pat Memorial in Fremantle were sent in by Mark Binns.

The wording on the plaque is as follows:

You don’t stop fighting for justice simply because those around you don’t like it. You just keep on fighting. (Rob Riley)

Commissioned by Deaths in Custody Watch Committee 28.4.1999. This stone stands witness to the courage of the Aboriginal peoples in their fight for human rights in Australia. Erected on 28th September 1994. In memory of all Aboriginal people who have died in custody in Australia. Their families and communities had the courage to speak out for justice. This led to the establishment of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. The Commissioners investigated the deaths of 99 Aboriginal people and reported in May 1991, making 339 recommendations to RIGHT THE WRONGS which led to their deaths. This memorial signifies a commitment by the people of Western Australia to ensure the effective implementation of the recommendations for the benefit of all.

The poem 'John Pat' by Jack Davis is also enscribed on the memorial.