Police brush off calls for independent inquiry over domestic violence death

One of Queensland’s assistant police commissioners has brushed off calls for an independent investigation into police actions in the lead up to Gold Coast mother Kelly Wilkinson’s death.

Apr 30, 2021, updated Apr 30, 2021
Gold Coast murder victim Kelly Wilkinson.

Gold Coast murder victim Kelly Wilkinson.

Mark Wheeler says an internal review is underway into police dealings with the mother-of-three, who was allegedly set alight by her estranged husband in her backyard last week.

Wheeler said he recognised the review conducted by former Court of Appeal judge Margaret McMurdo, but other processes needed to be adhered to.

“Those matters are for others to comment on, but I certainly acknowledge the work of Justice McMurdo with the task force review,” he said in Townsville on Friday.

“Those things will will occur in due course, there is an internal review being conducted which was announced a little while ago.

“But ultimately there is also judicial processes to apply to it as well, including criminal prosecution, a coronial matter that will need to be looked at, so those are matters for others.”

McMurdo, who is the head of a women’s justice task force reviewing women’s experiences in the justice system, this week noted strong support for an independent investigation into Queensland police’s handling of Ms Wilkinson’s death but did not offer her own views.

The focus on the circumstances leading up to Wilkinson’s alleged killing comes as Queensland police launch the domestic and family violence prevention month beginning in May, with the state’s figures painting a shocking picture of the issue across Queensland.

In 2020, Queensland police attended more than 107,000 calls for services relating to domestic and family violence.

In Townsville more than 3000 domestic violence order breaches were recorded in 2020, the highest in the state, and police are called out for 15-25 domestic and family violence incidents per day.

Sergeant Elise Feltham, officer in charge of the Townsville vulnerable person’s unit, said such incidents never get easier for police.

“Our officers are seeing it once or twice a shift every eight hours. It is concerning for us and we want to try and stop it as best we can,” she said.

“When you’re not exposed to it, obviously, it’s extremely confronting and yes we do get used to seeing the violence but it’s still something that we take home.

“After every shift we think how does that family live like that, how do those children live like that?

“It’s inappropriate, we do our best to stop it and it does scar us.

“What we need to do is address how people approach their relationships with family and their partners and we ask them to continue to communicate with us and the support services within the community.”

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