A grieving mother whose baby was kidnapped, raped and murdered by her de facto after he brutally assaulted her in Western Australia’s north has failed in her bid to have an inquest held, arguing police action contributed to the death.
Mervyn Bell attacked Tamica Mullaley on a Broome street, stripped her naked then drove off before returning and attempting to drive over her in March 2013.
He was not there when police arrived and arrested Ms Mullaley after she became aggressive.
Bell then abducted 10-month-old Charles ‘Charlie Boy’ Mullaley from two young neighbours who were caring for him while his mother was in custody.
Bell proceeded to sexually abuse and torture the infant, inflicting broken bones, burns and bruises during a 15-hour road trip before the baby died.
Shortly after the abduction, Ms Mullaley’s father called police, asking them to look for Bell, saying he had taken the child and threatened to kill him.
A Corruption and Crime Commission reviewed the internal police investigation into their response to that alarming report, finding it was delayed and ineffective but there was no serious misconduct.
A coroner investigated the death but did not hold an inquest, which Ms Mullaley called for last year, backed by the National Justice Project, which cited a section of the Coroner’s Act that an inquest must be held if it appears a death was caused, or contributed to, by any police action.
Her request to the Supreme Court of WA was rejected on Wednesday.
Ms Mullaley submitted police decided to leave Charlie in the care of the neighbours but the court found that was her decision.
‘The police officers did not assume care of Charlie and did not, on the face of it, breach any obligation or depart from any norm or standard by not taking him into care and protection,’ Justice Rene Le Miere said.
Bell was serving a minimum 27 years behind bars when he took his own life in 2015.