By Pearse Dolan
Kieffen Raggett was an 8 year old aboriginal boy, who lived in the remote town of Borroloola which is located in the Northern Territory. It lies on the banks of the Macarthur River, it is 10 hours drive south-east of Darwin and hundreds of kilometres from any other major centre.
His tragic story begins on the 2nd of October 2007 when he went missing after deciding to stay home while the community attended the funeral of a respect leader. When they found that he was missing his guardians Mr Clifford Taylor and Mrs Adrianna Raggett were immediately concerned that he was in danger as it was not Kieffen’s nature to wander off alone. As they began to search for him they found his tracks behind the subdivision where he lived but what was alarming was that there were a set of adult tracks alongside Kieffen’s leading into the bush.
Over the next two days thorough ground and aerial searches were conducted by local police, members of the Territory Response Section, Family Members and the local community and sadly at 4.30 pm on the 4th of October, 2007 his deceased body was found floating in a waterhole approximately 500m from the subdivision. As they pulled the body from the waterhole rocks the size of small dinner plates fell from Kieffen’s trousers
The investigating police came to a rather quick conclusion that the boy had drowned accidentally, despite seeing the large rocks fall from his trousers and the matter was then allocated to the local police member to complete a coronial file. The fact that the police made such a premature decision in concluding that the boy drowned accidentally became a pivotal factor in this case as it was given the priority as non-suspicious and minimum standards of investigation were not adhered to. So the result was that it took a staggering 3 years for the coronial inquest to be conducted.
In 2010 Coroner Greg Cavanagh who filled the file “revealed how police had ''irrationally'' focused on trying to substantiate the death as accidental despite the inexplicable presence of the rocks in the boy's trousers. No proper searches had been made around the scene. There had been inadequate briefings to senior officers, evidence destroyed and ignored and police failure to provide reports to the coroner in a timely period. DNA evidence from Kieffen's body was destroyed in the meantime.” (http://www.smh.com.au/national/kieffens-story-a-boy-killed-inept-police-and-still-no-answers-20120420-1xccf.html#ixzz3AccK1Yll).
It has also been uncovered that an alleged paedophile dwells within the Borroloola community and coincidently enough his DNA was found on a XXXX beer can at the waterhole however he could not be named as he was facing other child sex abuse crimes at the time. This case has now been classified as an open case and referred to a Cold Case investigation Unit.
One thing that was established from this case was that the local police failed at nearly every aspect of this investigation as they did not get a blood splatter analysis done, failed to undertake up to 20 follow-up tasks and did not appoint a crime scene manager. As for non-legal responses to the issue the community banded together and all helped in extensive searches for Kieffen. But the most ironic part about this was it happened just three months after the Howard Government announced its intervention in the Northern Territory to protect the welfare of Indigenous children. But as plainly seen this non-legal response was non-existent.
What else needs to be addressed is the elephant in the room, would it have been different if Kieffen was white? I…