2 convicted for Aborigine's death in violent sexual assault

AP
More than six years after an Aboriginal woman bled to death from a violent sexual assault on a remote beach, a jury convicted two men yesterday in connection with her death.
AP

More than six years after an Aboriginal woman bled to death from a violent sexual assault on a remote beach, a jury convicted two men yesterday in connection with her death in a case that has horrified Australians and exposed the nation’s deep racial divide.

After a five-week trial at Coffs Harbour Supreme Court, a jury took less than an hour to convict Adrian Attwater of manslaughter and aggravated sexual assault in the death of Lynette Daley. 

His co-defendant Paul Maris was found guilty of aggravated sexual assault and hindering the discovery of evidence. Sentences will be announced later. 

Daley, a 33-year-old mother of seven, died in 2011 after Attwater and Maris drove her to an isolated beach in New South Wales, where she was subjected to a vicious sexual assault.

Despite calls from a state coroner and police to prosecute Attwater and Maris, it took prosecutors more than five years to agree to try the men for the killing. Prosecutors only decided to move forward with the case last year, after media reports of her death prompted widespread public outrage and accusations that officials didn’t care about Daley because she was Aboriginal and her assailants were white.

Prosecutors have never publicly explained why it took them so long to bring the case to trial, but Daley’s family has always believed it came down to the color of her skin.

“It was a long fight, a long struggle,” Daley’s stepfather Gordon Davis said after the verdict. “Let the world know there was justice for an Aboriginal woman.”

The brutality of Daley’s death and the lack of swift justice rattled Australians, who have long struggled to address the centuries of suffering endured by the indigenous population. 

Aboriginal people make up around 3 percent of Australia’s population of 24 million people, and suffer from high rates of poverty, imprisonment, unemployment and poor health.

Attwater and Maris never denied being with Daley when she died during a camping trip to desolate Ten Mile Beach. But they denied responsibility for her death, saying she had been a willing participant in what they dubbed “wild sex.”

An autopsy, however, showed Daley’s blood alcohol level was between 0.30 and 0.35 percent — high enough to leave her severely incapacitated and, prosecutors said, utterly incapable of consent.

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