Closing arguments set to begin at inquest into death of Indigenous teen Devon Freeman
The hearing into the case of a 15-year-old Indigenous teenager who died after running away from his parents was set to begin this week, and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Ministerception centre on Wednesday morning.
Devon Freeman died in early August, just hours after his parents, David and Michelle, were placed under police protection.
Devon was 15 years old when he drowned. He was of Aboriginal heritage, and was the great-nephew of Pauline Hanson.
He was taken to hospital in the early hours to seek treatment for his injuries after he was hit by a car.
Devon could not talk or breathe. Ten days later he was pronounced dead.
His parents told the Seven Network that Devon had been suffering from depression for the past few weeks.
The family’s lawyer, Mark Pearson QC, said Devon was in a particularly vulnerable state.
Mr Pearson said it was important to find out why Devon was being abused by his mother, because “there may be a very disturbing truth about this case”.
Mr Pearson said he hoped the inquiry would deliver answers to four questions:
Did Devon’s death result from his mother’s fault?
If so, why?
What did the mother and child fail to do which would have stopped the abuse?
What should have been done by the mother and child?
Mr Pearson told the inquest on Wednesday his client’s great-uncle Pauline Hanson’s comments calling for the Stolen Generations had been a factor in Devon’s death.
“Pauline Hanson’s comments have been very, very troubling to me,” he said.
Mr Pearson said the family’s request for an independent enquiry was not “entirely unreasonable” and called on the coroner to call for an inquest, rather than a coronial inquest.
“I don’t think that would be a fair inquiry – I have a family member who believes what Ms Hanson said and Ms Hanson’s view of the Stolen Generations needs to be looked at very carefully,” he said.
The inquest will hear from medical experts and police officers who investigated the case but will not hear from the family members who were concerned.
Mr Pearson said the inquest should hear from all of the family members to avoid “the