A television series premiering this week is set to shine a spotlight on the local police and justice system in the late 80’s and early 90’s, as a well known Tamworth cold case murder comes under further investigation.
On the January 16, 1988 local indigenous teenager Mark Haines kissed his girlfriend goodbye at 3.30am. Three hours later the 17 year old’s body was found on railway tracks, with a stolen car found nearby.
At the time the coroner ruled the death as suspicious, although to date that is about the weight of the evidence uncovered by an investigation that is currently the subject of its own investigation, according to NITV and Buzzfeed journalist Allan Clarke, who is the host of Cold Justice.
“This series is more than just a typical murder mystery – it is a historical reflection on that period. It shines a light on the justice system, and how Aboriginal families relate to the system,” Mr Clarke said.
“There are a lot of question marks in this case – a lot of things that weren’t followed up on.”
Mr Clarke also claims to have uncovered more witnesses, who have been able to shed more light on the mystery as the case gets reviewed.
"The State Crime Command have reviewed the investigation and in conjunction with Oxley detectives, investigations continue," Oxley Acting Superintendent Jeff Budd told The Leader. “It would be very pleasing to unearth evidence that leads to an arrest."
While Mr Clarke said that the case has been following him his whole career, it was the passion and “raw grief” of Mr Haines’ family that led to the journalist intensively following the case, and then making this series over the past 18 months.
Mark’s parents died without ever knowing what happened, although his uncle, Don Craigie, and other family members have vowed to find justice for Mark.
“When I met the family a few years ago their grief was still so raw it was like a smack in the face,” Mr Clarke said.
One of the women to have recently come forward is the mother of a man who is alleged to have been driving the stolen car that night, although the car was never fingerprinted.
Unfortunately that man took his own life seven months later, leaving a suicide note.
“There are a lot of people still in Tamworth that have information about that night. Some other new witnesses I spoke to are terrified of retribution because two people that may be connected to Mark’s death still live in the area,” Mr Clarke said.
“There is a real opportunity to solve it. The transcript conversations are pretty revealing and it is easy to start forming a theory – the same names are re-occurring constantly.”
The series will premier on NITV on Tuesday at 9.30pm.
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