Inquest into taxi driver’s violent death leaves questions unanswered

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Bryan Hodgkinson was found dead in 1987.

Bryan Hodgkinson was discovered useless in 1987.Credit score:Fairfax Archives

He was additionally recognized to be an achieved photographer and as a taxi driver, he was thought-about accountable, dependable, and at all times adopted explicit taxi operator guidelines.

David O’Connell’s inquest findings have raised extra questions and doubts in regards to the investigation as they had been unable to supply any definitive solutions about Mr Hodgkinson’s loss of life.

Mr O’Connell mentioned nobody had ever been charged together with his homicide, however a person named Anthony Beer was charged with different offences allegedly dedicated that evening.

These expenses included the illegal use of the taxi, theft with precise violence and being an adjunct after the actual fact to homicide.

However Mr Beer was not thought-about a suspect in Mr Hodgkinson’s homicide. The seemingly perpetrator, Mr O’Connell mentioned, was both Paul Sutherland or Gary Rasmussen.

Mr Hodgkinson had final been seen driving his taxi south on Barolin Road about 1am, when he handed his good friend, “Mr Spann”, who labored as a safety officer.

Regardless of Mr Spann’s proof of a passenger being within the taxi with Mr Hodgkinson, the coroner couldn’t conclude who that passenger was.

“What I can draw from the incident is that it’s affordable to conclude that Mr Hodgkinson might have then been underneath duress or coercion as he didn’t give his customary wave to his acquaintance,” Mr O’Connell mentioned.

“He additionally had his gaze firmly fastened ahead, and didn’t radio his base that he was leaving city though he was then on the street immediately main south from Bundaberg and was approaching the bounds of the built-up residential space.”

One of many theories, Mr O’Connell mentioned, was that Mr Hodgkinson was killed due to his doable information of the loss of life of Paula Peters, killed by Sutherland and whose physique was discovered across the time Mr Hodgkinson was murdered.

Mr Hodgkinson had earlier informed Mr Spann that he had photographed a “particular celebration”.

“The speculation he was suggesting was that Ms Paula Peters was an individual who attended these ‘particular events’ and that she was an individual recognized to take part in bondage intercourse,” Mr O’Connell mentioned.

“… The proof was that her physique might have been deceased for a brief time frame, maybe round per week or little extra, and that she had died resulting from a consensual bondage tryst which had gone horribly mistaken. Her physique had been present in a cane discipline, nonetheless certain.”

Sutherland was tried and convicted of Ms Peters’ loss of life.

“The speculation was developed that Mr Sutherland might have been chargeable for Mr Hodgkinson’s loss of life resulting from Mr Hodgkinson being an individual who might determine Mr Sutherland as being a sexual accomplice of Ms Peters at their ‘particular events’ or that Mr Sutherland may very well be recognized by Mr Hodgkinson as maybe Mr Hodgkinson was the taxi driver who final noticed Ms Peters and Mr Sutherland collectively once they caught a taxi to Ms Peters’ residence the place she had her ultimate encounter with Mr Sutherland,” Mr O’Connell mentioned.

Mr Sutherland, who “freely gave proof, and by no means sought to say privilege” on the inquest, claimed to be in Brisbane on the time of Mr Hodgkinson’s loss of life.

An alternate idea was that Rasmussen, who died of a bootleg drug overdose in October 1993, had murdered Mr Hodgkinson in a jealous rage.

“Proof was, and I settle for, that Mr Rasmussen was a person susceptible to excessive violence and with a really fast mood,” Mr O’Connell mentioned.

“Quite a few witnesses confirmed this however every mentioned that he was an individual who might defend himself, or be the aggressor, just by utilizing his fists and he was by no means noticed to make use of a knife, besides on only one event.

“… The speculation developed was that Mr Rasmussen was ‘out to get’ Mr Hodgkinson as a result of Mr Hodgkinson at one time had ‘chatted up’ considered one of Mr Rasmussen’s woman associates.

“No witness might adequately element any such incident or when it occurred.

“The event of the speculation was that this explicit night Mr Rasmussen merely determined he would ‘get’ Mr Hodgkinson and so flagged down his cab at a taxi rank (which implies the taxi operator despatcher would don’t have any report of the taxi request).”

Whereas Mr O’Connell mentioned the opportunity of any individual apart from Sutherland or Rasmussen being chargeable for killing Mr Hodgkinson was “eradicated from [his] thoughts”, he was unable to succeed in a conclusion.

“In consideration of all the proof offered at this inquest, very regrettably, I’m left with a doubt as to which of the 2 essential individuals of curiosity was chargeable for Mr Hodgkinson’s loss of life,” he mentioned.

“Accordingly I can’t attain the required excessive stage of chance that I have to to say particular individual is chargeable for Mr Hodgkinson’s loss of life, however in my thoughts the 2 theories proposed to me, one which concerned Mr Paul Sutherland and the one which concerned Mr Gary Rasmussen, every had their strengths and their weaknesses, which on the accessible proof I can’t resolve satisfactorily.”

Through the inquest, Mr O’Connell additionally criticised the senior law enforcement officials following an intensive evaluate made by a detective in 2014.

“His evaluate was then despatched ‘up the chain of command’ the place, and I state this very briefly, extra senior officers merely ‘rubber-stamped’ that these additional investigations ought to happen however the actuality is no-one did something,” he mentioned.

“Worse, senior officers really merely rubber-stamped the sooner rubber-stamp recommending that additional investigations ought to progress, however nonetheless nothing occurred.

“It was solely when the matter reached the Coroners Court docket of Queensland by the insistence of the deceased’s sister, Doris Hillier, that the required investigations occurred.”

Jocelyn Garcia is a journalist on the Brisbane Instances, overlaying breaking information.

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