NSW Police have today announced a doubling in the reward for information relating to the death of Gomeroi teenager Mark Anthony Haines who was found dead on train tracks outside of Tamworth in 1988. A NSW Police investigation at the time and a Coronial Inquest failed to conclude Mark’s cause of death and Mark’s uncle, Uncle Don Craigie, has campaigned for justice for 35 years. A fresh Coronial Inquest was announced in January this year and in a further significant step forward NSW Police have today increased the reward for information relating to Mark’s death to $1 million. The inquest is set to commence in April 2024. NSW Police have admitted that evidence in the initial investigation was destroyed.
Uncle Don Craigie said: “As this reward has been increased to $1 million, I encourage anyone and everyone who has information relating to Mark’s death, no matter how small you may think it is, to come forward now. It could be the one piece of the puzzle that shows what happened to Mark. We have a nine month window before the Coronial Inquest begins.
“Mark was a lovely young man, he was quiet and had many friends, boys, girls, Aboriginal and non Aboriginal. I would not wish upon anyone what happened to Mark in the early hours of 16 January 1988. I have been on this journey to find the truth about what happened to Mark for 35 years and I can feel we are getting very close. I say to everyone, we will find the truth, and for anyone out there who knows something, now is the time to come forward.” Uncle Don said.
Greens MP and spokesperson for First Nations Justice Sue Higginson said: “The announcement of a fresh Coronial Inquest and now the increasing of the reward for information is a very significant step toward the doorstep of justice. Uncle Don has never given up on getting to the truth and justice for Mark. For over 35 years he has walked a long and rough road to justice and now we have reached a significant bridge in that road.
“What happened to Mark was tragic and the failed Police response at the time has compounded the injustice for too long. Uncle Don has always maintained that someone out there knows something and now is a chance to finally expose the truth. This increase in the reward by the NSW Police is significant and extremely welcomed.” Ms Higginson said.
James Pender, Coronial Advocate at the Aboriginal Legal Service (ALS) said: “Mark’s tragic death has remained unsolved for over 35 years. Today’s announcement of a $1 million reward for information relating to Mark’s death is the clearest possible sign that there is a belief that someone in the community knows what happened to Mark on that night in January 1988 and can help. If someone can assist, we encourage them to come forward.
“The State Coroner has ordered a fresh inquest into Mark’s death on the basis that there is new evidence that may assist in making a finding regarding the circumstances of Mark’s death. That inquest will be held in April 2024 and the ALS looks forward to supporting Don as he continues his courageous fight to find answers on behalf of Mark and his family.” Mr Pender said.
For media comment contact: Sue Higginson 0428 227 363