Two teenagers have been charged with murder and additional police resources deployed to Aurukun amidst community unrest following the death of a 37-year-old local man. Overnight detectives charged a 17-year-old boy and an 18-year-old man with murder, with the man due to appear in the Cairns Magistrates Court today. Police allege that an altercation occurred between the pair and the 37-year-old man on New Year’s Day during which time the man sustained a stab wound to the abdomen. He was then transported to the Aurukun medical clinic and was pronounced dead a short time late.
According to police, a large group of people then took to the streets arming themselves with makeshift weapons once news spread of the man’s death. The group then dispersed before reforming and breaking into houses and vehicles, damaging property and in some instances starting fires, while searching for the two teens. Additional police were then deployed to Aurukun overnight from Weipa, Coen and Cairns.
Superintendent Geoff Sheldon, Assistant District Officer, Far North District said police are continuing to monitor the situation and are appealing for calm.
“We understand that the sudden and tragic death of a loved one causes immense grief and at times anger, and I extend my condolences to the family and friends of the deceased. Can I also ask for calm and restraint at this difficult time. The level of threats and property destruction that we saw yesterday and overnight in Aurukun is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Police have taken into custody and charged two teenagers with murder. Their families and associates should not have to live in fear of reprisals.”
“The safety of everyone in the community is our priority and we will do everything to support the community during this time.”
Police have launched a major investigation into both the homicide and the unrest and associated offences such as arson and wilful destruction.
Police Media added “Police will conduct further assessments of the damage associated with the unrest and at this stage believe that six dwellings were set on fire, sustaining varying degrees of damage including some being destroyed. Two other dwellings sustained fire damage to their outside, as well as several cars that were damaged or set alight.”
Police are asking for anyone with information on the unrest or the murder to contact Policelink on 131 444.