Stephen Dedman reviews 'Bowraville' by Dan Box

Stephen Dedman reviews 'Bowraville' by Dan Box


by Dan Box

Viking, $34.99 pb, 325 pp, 9780143784395

Dan Box is a crime reporter for The Australian. In September 2014, Homicide Detective Chief Inspector Gary Jubelin contacted him to ask him to write about the murder of three Aboriginal children from Bowraville in 1990–91. Box later began a podcast about the murders that earned him a Walkley Award, part of a process that would see him go from (in his words) reporter to campaigner to witness in the trial of the man suspected of the murders.

Colleen Walker-Craig, aged sixteen, disappeared after a house party on Bowraville’s Cemetery Road in September 1990. When her mother, Muriel Craig, went to Bowraville’s police station to report her missing on the following Sunday, the station was closed. When she returned on Monday, the police suggested that Colleen had ‘gone walkabout’ and didn’t take a statement. Colleen’s body has never been found, but her clothes were discovered in a river in April 1991, by which time Evelyn Greenup (aged four) and Clinton Speedy-Duroux (sixteen) had also been murdered after attending parties on Cemetery Road.

Clinton’s body was discovered in February 1991, and a local labourer, who had attended the parties where Colleen, Evelyn, and Clinton were last seen, was charged with his murder. (Following a suppression order by Magistrate Robert Stone on 25 March 2019, the labourer is referred to throughout Box’s book as ‘James Hide’.) Evelyn’s skull was discovered ten days after Colleen’s clothes. ‘Hide’ was also charged with her murder in October 1991.

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Published in August 2019, no. 413
Stephen Dedman

Stephen Dedman

Stephen Dedman is the author of five novels and more than 120 short stories published in an eclectic range of anthologies and magazines. He has taught creative writing at the University of Western Australia and the Forensic Science Centre, been a book reviewer for The West Australian and other publications, and worked in bookshops for more than thirty years.

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