Image for Shooting the messenger … a subjective analysis of a new millennium Tasmanian inquest

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Simon Nicholson SC

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Caroline Graves

TT has finally been able to locate a picture of Coroner Simon Cooper ... It’s in this ABC story, A Timeline of Key Events, HERE

As with the Gilewicz Commission of Inquiry, the Butterworth Inquest to me was flawed.

But who cares when it happens in this State? Who cares for my opinion? It’s been happening for aeons … everywhere and in all institutions.

Saw it in John Wayne movies. A young brave delivers bad news to the chief of the Indian nation and is speared instantly. Even then bad news was just too much to bear, so best if the messenger was disposed of.

Even today truth is a terrible burden for any society to carry, where it projects as fact a deep flaw in a social infrastructure based on concepts of pristine jurisprudence. 

Particularly in a society where corruption is so ingrained, the corrupt don’t know they’re corrupt and take umbrage at being labelled as corrupt.

Particularly in Tasmania.

And so what am I saying? Butterworth of course. You know … Lucille?

Always knew that something was up! Cops hate nothing more than a meddlesome journo sniffing around the edges of their secrets.

Well the inquest revealed at least one deep secret that translates as the silence of the code within: that the second most highly-ranked cop broke every rule in the book and removed the Butterworth file from police archives.

Had I still been the ABC cop roundsman, with all my cop contacts, I wouldn’t have had to wait for a formal inquest to find that out.

For every bad cop there are scores of good cops … and good cops will find a way to find a messenger.

So it is nice to be told through a nice bit of PR BS from the latest commissioner about that file-stealing incident: ‘oh that was then and this is now’.

Translate that as: all the bad eggs are gone. Today we speak simple truths. Well then, so much for allowing my name to be dirtied by Mr Lance Lesage, described earlier to me by police as a congenital liar.

And so, we’ve had the inquest … thanks to the Tasmanian Times and a brave old man with a secret on his chest.

Farewell Don Hazell, now in his grave. I never got to see Don at the inquest that his conscience brought about. His integrity was unquestionable.

His community standing was immense. He had to get something off his chest and sought me out to do it. The State was left with no option but to have an inquest. I kept my distance from Don Hazell in the lead-up to the inquest because I know how things work in Tasmania.

And so I avoided the real possibility of a courtroom ambush accusation of ‘witness collaboration’. It’s from the dirty-tricks book of jurisprudence and it taints our justice system and casts a shadow of doubt on the integrity of even the noblest of practitioners.

Here’s the short version: if you have suspicions that there’s a cover-up bigger than God’s underpants (or bra) out comes the burning brand and sssst! Ouch! You’re a conspiracy theorist.

It soon gets out and about, because all the captains of industry circulate with PR purpose throughout the Tasmanian social infrastructure to sanitise their view of themselves. It takes a while, but inevitably the message in a bottle is also delivered by even the closest friends, especially when they’ve been sipping from the bottle … that you’re a conspiracy theorist.

I’m so pleased I did keep my distance.

Amazing what a spell as a super-fit, skilled young infantry soldier in the Vietnam milieu of the dirty-tricks’ books of mines, and fecal saturated punji stake traps, will do for your sense of survival.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that my Welcome Home was really to a much-worse jungle. And my cautious sense turned out to be right.

Lesage, the congenital liar tells the inquiry of my corroboration with him. Well then why wasn’t I charged with distributing false statements to the-then State Leader of the Opposition, to the ABC, to the police commissioner and indeed to the Butterworth Inquest?

I expected to be called as a witness, given that Don Hazell came to my Orford home for an interview that I transcribed for the Tasmanian Times - http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php/article/something-you-need-to-know - and placed onto YouTube.

And then the cacophony started. Every newspaper and TV and radio news service in the nation ran with the revelation of Don Hazell’s belief. That he had dug up human remains in the same place that Lance Lesage says he buried Lucille.

And then the inquest came along.

Four years after my interview with Lesage on December 9, 2011 at Buckland … who revealed that he told police in 1986 that he buried Lucille and was present when she was murdered.

A hell of a story Lance Lesage! …

That you picked Lucille up from a bus-stop in the company of a high-profile Sandy Bay footballer? You drove them both to the nearby Cornelian Bay Cemetery.

You went for a walk and a smoke and returned to the car where she was on the back seat under a blanket. You drove her to a place of soft loamy soil at Kingston and you buried her!

One hell of a story brave Mr Lance Lesage … who said his motivation to seek me out was to purge himself.

But one big story was far too big for me. I wanted nothing to do with it. In the public interest I met with you at Buckland.

Former ballistics cop Stan Hanuszewicz brought you to me. Hanuszewicz too was there in 1986 at Kingston where cops searched for Lucille’s body after your confession then.

But you both concurred that the ‘dig’ was purposely in the wrong place.

They didn’t want to find her you both concluded.

It was much easier for me to interview you and hand the material over. What a great starting place, my old workplace, the ABC Hobart.

I made the un-redacted video interview and an audio copy available to ABC TV News and Current Affairs and to ABC radio.

I sent a copy to Will Hodgman, then Leader of the Opposition and to Tasmania Police.

Anyway my duty done. I would do no more.

My pen rests and I enjoy retirement.

But the only thing louder than the cacophony of the news as to a breakthrough in Australia’s biggest missing-person mystery … was the silence!

Nothing!

Nothing from the ABC, nothing from the Opposition Leader, nothing from the cops!

And so it went to the Tasmanian Times and to You Tube.

Damn it, why not? I simply cannot ignore this. I have responsibility to pursue that wonderful maxim of all journo bibles, the public’s right to know!

At least it got the ball rolling. At least it was ‘out there’.

But the main media stayed away from it. To acknowledge a retired award-winning investigative journo and an online paper as the Tasmanian Times as the source of the breakthrough might be just too much for the modern Fourth Estate to acknowledge.

And so, it fell into something much worse than a quietude continuum … apathy.

The public had a right to know but most certainly NOT from a source as the Tasmanian Times or YouTube, from a journo meddling in the affairs of State and Fourth Estate.

May 8, 2014: And then, like something out of a modern sci-fi thriller … the contact!

David Plumpton, chief investigator of the Butterworth case in the company of Cary Millhouse met me at the Orford police station.

I agreed to a suggestion by former Intregity Commissioner Barbara Etter for her to sit in as legal shotgun/witness.

And here we heard that this guy Lance Lesage had revealed in 1986 the story that nobody believed.

That he drove a car to pick Lucille up under the instructions of a passenger, hero Sandy Bay footballer, Bobby Lahey ( http://www.themercury.com.au/news/tasmania/former-hobart-footballer-robert-lahey-denies-lucille-butterworth-claim/news-story/ea1ee2ec8ca9ac3eb2a36679d955ba4f ). They then drove to the nearby Cornelian Bay cemetery where Lesage the chauffeur was told to take a walk.

He went for a long smoke and came back to the car and Lucille was on the back-seat under a Tartan blanket. Under instructions they drove Lucille’s body to a sandy spot near Blackman’s Bay/Kingston.

Lesage buried her.

Plumpton and Millhouse are convincing. It is the same story that Lesage told me in the company of Hanuzewicz in a very cramped car on a very hot day.

Outside after the meeting with Plumpton and Millhouse at Orford, there is consensus between me and Barbara Etter that we accept the police view of Lesage.

That he is a congenital liar and has no credibility.

And so I drop it … until along comes another man with a conscience, Don Hazell, former mayor of Kingborough and a big name in State earthmoving business circles.

He made contact via a short note given to a friend who drops it off at my doorstep: ‘there is something that you need to know’ ( http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php/article/something-you-need-to-know ).

July 27 2014: Don Hazell comes to Orford and I interview him. That in the early preparation stages of a subdivision at Kingston Blackman’s Bay he dug up what he knew to be a human rib-cage.

But re-buried it!

Bad timing in careers and raising a family.

He would later describe what he found to university specialists in human anatomy and they confirmed that indeed Don Hazell had held in his hands, the rib-cage of a human being.

But whose?

It’s why Don came to me with his story. Ageing and conscious-ridden, he wanted to get it off his chest.

But, why me?

Why not the media?

He had read my postings onto the Tasmanian Times and saw the Buckland Tapp-Hanuszewicz-Lesage interview on YouTube.

As with Lesage, he left it to my discretion to do with it what I chose.

To him and to me and to Stan, it corroborated the Lesage story of picking up Lucille at the bus-stop, was present at her death near the Cornelian Bay Cemetery, drove her body to Kingston, buried her.

Thank you Don, now gone to your grave with this deep secret off your chest.

Thank you Don Hazell, for your courage.

Even if your story was, as you said, treated with disdain by David Plumpton.

How many times you called me afterwards to enunciate your disgust at being dismissed. 

I transcribe Don’s interview.

Having lost confidence in aforementioned distribution channels to the State and its media, I post it onto the Tasmanian Times and YouTube.

Suddenly the news is rent with the Don Hazell revelations, lifted boldly from the Tasmanian Times, my distinctive home wall paneling as evidential back-ground where the interview took place, and no credit is given to the TT as the source of the story. The protocol days of sourcing the story have gone.

The government has no option but to bring about an inquest, not bad after about 47 years since this beautiful young woman disappeared.

But later I am to hear that the lawyer wife of David Plumpton whose policeman husband has been living and breathing the Buttworth case for so long, is also appointed to the Coroner’s staff … and I immediately and justifiably, ponder the objectivity and professionalism of the official probe.

Don Hazell has much ensuing interaction with David Plumpton and Hazell relates to me discourse with Plumpton that translates as a personal vendetta to publicly discredit Lesage for talking to me on Lucille’s fate.

Well as it turns out, it is Lesage who becomes the inquest hero and it is me who is discredited.

And to me of course the inquest was manipulated to shoot the messenger.

Lesage, the man cops describe as a congenital liar, the man who tells me the same story that brought about a police search at Kingston in 1986; the same story that he told the cops; the same story he allegedly told his lawyer in 1986 - that same story that he tells the Coroner’s court 30 years later, is according to him, the story that I told him to tell.

He tells the inquest that he met with me only four years ago and I gave him the Q&A’s.

And so why did Coroner Simon Cooper; why did not senior council assisting, Simon Nicholson, not direct the media NOT to use this amazing revelation that was broadcast all the way to the Middle East, until such time I could be contacted for verification?

The Coroner has such powers of direction.

What view did they hold of me to allow this blatant lie from a known congenital liar to contaminate my name? Indeed, I the messenger have been dragged quietly to a secret place of resting conspiracy theorists … and shot.

But the bastards didn’t shoot straight! The ambush backfired into ambush-drill.

“When the odds are against you and you have been ambushed, every soldier will turn and make way to the direction of the ambush … all weapons firing and shouting at the top of your voices.”

Amazing how a 20 year-old conscripted kid will remember survival drill 50 years later … and turn towards today’s enemy … shouting: “don’t you think you’ve shot the wrong man?”

Just a few days before my appearance before the Coroner, I am invited by SC Nicholson for a table conference and I am given a good hearing at an hour-long congenial meeting with his staff present.

I apprise Mr Nicholson that as soon as the inquest into Lucille was announced, I emailed the Coroner’s office, offering all material in my possession, including un-redacted interviews and transcripts of the interviews with Lesage and Hazell.

My email was acknowledged as being received.

I heard nothing from the Coroner’s office until months later when Lesage committed unchecked perjury at the inquest.

Instead of him being carted away and locked up, it was me. And I am now in survival ambush-drill mode. And so I am rightly reflecting on and questioning the efficiency of the Coroner’s staff when SC Nicholson turns to them at that conference table and asks to slightly shaking heads: “Did we receive Mr Tapp’s material?”

I also explained to SC Nicholson, with time-coded photographs on my laptop, taken as a record of my short time with Lesage.

I was hoping that SC Nicholson would do his duty and demonstrate to the Coroner that my time-coded photographs of Lesage at the Buckland Pub, Lesage and Hanuscewicz and Tapp in the Buckland cemetery after a failed interview attempt and shots of Hanuszewicz and Lesage at the Buckland Bridge, would prove his testimony a lie.

How long would it have taken me to give him the questions and practice the answers for the interview?

The time-coded photos would have proved it. My name would be cleared.

Lesage would be hauled back and asked why he had changed his story.

I would have expected Hanuszewicz to have been called to testify, but he wasn’t. His testimony was vital to my intended testimony that I didn’t get a chance to make under oath of burning in hell for eternity for perjury.

I cast no aspersions on the integrity of the Coroner, Simon Cooper, but it is my right to have my say. A Coroner’s court is essentially a police court. Police collect the evidence, counsel assisting presents it and directs the Coroner to a finding.

And so a few days after my most pleasant meeting with the Coroner’s staff, to give belated testimony to the coronial inquest into Lucille Butterworth, it is a different Simon Nicholson SC than he at the conference table just a few days earlier.

Don Hazell has already contacted me to say that he could only answer yes or no to long questions. But Don is hard of hearing, is unrepresented and tells me later of his disgust with his treatment, “they’re just a bunch of fucking idiots!”

At the GCI 2000 (Gilewicz) I got a chance to qualify some of my questions. But the terms of reference to a Commission Of Inquiry obviously do not apply to a Coronial Inquest in Tasmania.

Simon Nicholson is playing to the media.

How can I tell?

Well as a journo I’ve covered more court cases than anyone in this room, media, practitioners … and even his honour the Coroner.

I mean no disrespect and I can read the demeanour of those who ask questions. I have often seen practitioners cautioned as once I heard a judge in a case against a ‘scallawag’ defendant caution the father of the Premier, charming Mike Hodgman; warning him not to confuse the courtroom with a political podium.

Without the benefit of transcripts I can but only paraphrase my experience before Coroner Simon Cooper. 

SC Nicholson asks multi-tiered questions of me and I tell the Coroner that I cannot and will not answer yes or no to convoluted multi-tiered questions, as they might incriminate me.

Nicholson then puts it to me, and his demeanour is more prosecutor than inquirer. To me the hearing is more an inquisition than inquest.

Why is he asking dumb-arsed questions?

Has he not visited my link to my book on Lucille as part of his research? I presumed that he had, as his file was chockers with printed transcripts of my material from the Tasmanian Times.

My as yet incomplete book that sets out the chronology of my search for Lucille and includes the interview with the man who admits to burying her. 

My book which is a free download! In the deep public interest, it is a free download, that insists that anyone with information should contact the coroner’s office. I see myself as a friend to the coronial inquest, but will be described as an uncooperative witness.

Nicholson: “So you’ve written this novel about Lucille Butterworth … ?”

Surely he knows the difference? A novel is essentially a work of fiction that when even based on fact gives the author much discretion for embellishment.

If he has referred to my book online as I have so obligingly and cooperatively made a direct link to it, he would know that it’s not a work of fiction. It’s most definitely not a novel.

Tapp: “It’s not a novel.”

He persists with the question. I have already been warned by the Coroner, when asked by SC Nicholson what other books I have written. I tell the court that I am underway with the final of the Gilewicz trilogy … “Disquiet Continuum”.

And told by the Coroner:

“Don’t make speeches.”

SC Nicholson tries another tack and refers again to the Butterworth ‘novel’.

“It’s not a novel.”

The Coroner has had enough.

He orders me into custody. David Plumpton, incredulously, is the cop on coronial security duty. I am staggered at his presence.

The police officer charged for years with investigating Tasmania’s most enduring missing persons’ case, is the cop on security duty at the inquest into Lucille Butterworth?

He walks towards me saying: “I have to take you by the arm, Paul.”

I reply: “I’m hardly going to make a run for it, David”.

I am bemused.

Media is preparing an exodus to outside.

My section has been hit and I am the last man standing. I ask a fellow journo if she will contact my wife. Better to hear it from a familiar voice than hear it in the news. 

An hitherto unknown young woman jumps to her feet from the public gallery. To me she is the Lady of the Lake where Tennyson’s winds have moaned ‘shrill, chill with flakes of foam’ for the duration of my time on the search for truth into Lucille.

I have been told earlier that one of Lucille’s brothers has referred to me as a worm, for making the reasonable suggestion in my book as to motivation for his sister being murdered … that perhaps she was in an unhappy relationship and was having an affair, was pregnant and had to be taken care of.

After all, there’s much evidence before the Coroner to suggest that Lucille’s relationship with her fiancee was on shaky grounds. 

And I am being led from the court.

The system that I would have given my life for, the one that I lost three amazingly courageous and beautiful friends to, that sacrosanct, untouchable, glow in all our hearts, democracy, has abandoned me and my mind flees to fallen comrades and a time of heroic camaraderie that only soldiers could ever have the privilege to know.

I have become the personification of my own misplaced belief in justice.

I am a man alone.

And if this were really a novel, I, the main character would have fallen instantly in love with Caroline Graves former cop, now barrister, as her arm rose brandishing the great justice sword Excalibur, announcing to the inquiry: ” I now act for Mr Tapp pro bono!”

Sadly, her sense of fair play that made her jump to her feet was not reported. But the media have the sensational story. Former journo taken into custody as an uncooperative witness!

Uncooperative? How much more cooperative can one get?

From the outset of my work on Lucille I have publicly and openly importuned the Coroner as the repository of any information related to Lucille.

I have written him on the day the inquest was announced.

I offered all my material to his staff, yet now believe they simply didn’t bother.

Or was it purposeful?

I have referred in correspondence to those with interest in this matter of the possibility of conflict of interest with the appointment of David Plumpton’s wife to the coronial staff, as the Plumpton and Plumpton Show.

Outside in the lobby where courtroom security staff have come near in case I decide to scarper and have been nodded away by Ms Graves.

We go to a small room where I am technically in custody. She convinces me that it is my best interests to apologise for disrupting the proceedings.

If I do not, I’ll probably go to the big room and porridge for breakfast. It is put to me:

“Why would you want to go to prison?”

“Ummm, maybe to interview a prisoner I know who maybe shouldn’t be in there?”

But I do agree to her advice, as my wife will hear this on the news as journos have rushed as rabbits before a ferret, out of the burrow and to broadcast the sensation of perhaps the first Australian messenger to be shot in the line of duty.

There’s no way I’m going to allow a manipulated inquest to even remotely cause my wife of nearing 50 years to have a stroke at the news of my being held over in custody should I not apologise. She is home alone and friends will call her with the news.

And so I return to the courtroom and apologise. To my astonishment, Coroner Cooper, before releasing me from any further appearances, leans towards me from the bench and asks me if I am aware that two brothers (and he names them) are responsible for disposing of the body of Lucille Butterworth.

I am again incredulous!

The names of these two men, one now dead, have never been raised in this inquest … the living brother has never been proffered as a person of interest to this inquest.

Yet named to me, before I leave his court, never to return, by the Coroner, as one of the brothers who disposed of Lucille’s body.

Surely this is the big accompanying headline! Coroner Names Two Brothers Who Buried Lucille!

But again the silence. Not a word of this is reported!

Or did I miss it?

I shall give the man’s name to Lindsay Tuffin, so as it can be archived. I know the man that the Coroner has named. I wrote a bush-lawyer’s plea of mitigation for him when he was faced with prison for drink-driving and saved his arse from another term.

I am staggered at the Coroner’s revelations and their implications.

How do I interpret this? WTF?

This piece is for the Tasmanian Times record.

Knowing journalism as it once was I had an expectation that outside the courtroom I might be asked my opinion as to my temporary incarceration, so as to balance the story.

But not so. I am escorted away from the media, ironically by police officer Cary Millhouse. I make my way to my Orford home to my wife who has been pre-warned of my treatment by a sensational radio news flash.

That I was taken into custody for yelling at the Coroner!

Only the inquest transcripts will reveal this to be a sensational concoction. 

But I want to be somewhere else. A little pub in a little town that has a little cenotaph where the names of relatives of the locals have been etched from wars since The Great War.

Real and ordinary men who have fallen by their tens of thousands to protect the sancrosancity of democracy … or at least their simplistic view of it.

I walk into the Spring Bay Hotel and am greeted by these people who really don’t give a damn for city-slicker justice.

They have their own.

A young man who spent his working life battling frightening seas as a cray fisherman, until he recently lost his boat, points a finger to the barman and a ‘handle’ of beer direct from the Antarctica is placed before me on the bar … and he gives me a silent nod.

Nothing else needs to be said … except a burning question on my mind.

What or who made Lance Lesage change his story?

Why has the man the Coroner has named to me as disposing of Lucille’s body not been part of the inquest process?

Why has the man the Coroner will name as Lucille’s murderer, not been charged?

Dare I proffer a reasonable guess? There’s not enough evidence to convict him? And at 80 years of age, he won’t be about for much longer and the truth will die with him.

Well at least the finding removes the Lucille mystery from the conscience of those entrusted to preserve the integrity of pristine jurisprudence and due process.

The whitewash machinery has done its job.

The missing Butterworth file has been found and closed for all time. Anybody who questions pristine due process in this State is just another conspiracy theorist.

But at the end of it all … why have I not been charged?

With what?

If the Coroner is convinced that indeed I, the messenger, covertly met with Lance Lesage at Buckland and concocted a lie to distribute to Will Hodgman, the police commissioner, and to the ABC … why have I not been charged with, dare I say it … conspiracy to pervert the course of justice?

Finally I am compelled to mention the courage that brought about the Commission of Inquiry into the death of Joe Gilewicz. It was lone voice Peg Putt, Greens MHA in the Tasmanian Parliament that paraphrased scores of anomalies in my manuscript, based on my investigation into his death.

The terms of reference for the 2000 GCI, conducted by Dennis Mahoney QC, were based on whether or not the Gilewicz inquest Coroner, Ian Matterson’s finding of justifiable homicide, may have been denied vital evidence.

But when the same witnesses for the Coroner, in this case, police, testify for the second time, and give the same evidence, the same findings can be expected.

Even so, justice must be seen to have been done.

Now where are today’s brave voices?  I would like at least one to stand in the privilege of our Parliament and make this statement.

“Mr Speaker, conflicts of interests notwithstanding, I acted in 1986 for Mr Lance Lesage, who returned under police escort from a Western Australian prison … to undertake a search in an area in which he confessed to burying Luclle Butterworth.  Mr Lesage conveyed to me then, the exact story that he related to Mr Tapp and that same story he resiled from in the recent Coronial Inquest into Lucille Butterworth’s disappearance.

Mr Speaker it is of the utmost importance that the Solicitor-General and the Attorney-General, make haste to conduct an independent inquiry into this matter, so that a man, dismissed as a cogent witness, as a police-described ‘congenital liar’ is permitted under the Coroners Act to abuse the legal privilege of our courts to sully far and wide, the reputation of any citizen, as in Mr Tapp’s case bent on assisting the Coroner to end once and for all the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Lucille Butterworth. To me it sends a clear message. If you have vital information, don’t come forward, for it may be better to secrete truth than to eke truth.

Mr Speaker, such an inquiry should question the integrity of the inquest from the perspective of accepting uncorroborated testimony and overlooking witnesses that can either refute or corroborate testimony. In this instance, Mr Hanuszewicz was a vital witness overlooked. He could have given testimony that at no time did Mr Tapp spend any time alone with Mr Lesage at Buckland before the interview. Conversely if Mr Tapp, the interviewer, did concoct questions and answers as stated by Mr Lesage, then surely Mr Hanuszewicz also was part of the conspiracy to pervert the course of justice … and dealt with accordingly.”


Oops, there I go, making speeches again! This meddlesome messenger cum bush-lawyer rests his case.

*Editor: Paul Tapp is a legend of Tasmanian journalism. A Vietnam vet, he started his journalism career decades ago on The Examiner. He has broken many stories over many years; including a stint as an award-winning journo with the ABC’s 7.30 Report (nationally).

• Barry Reynolds in Comments: I’m fed up with the claim that Lucille Butterworth is the oldest “unsolved” disappearance. My uncle disappeared in 1965 near Lake Sorell. Not a word from the Media or anyone else about that. It went back to the Coroner’s court about 3 years ago to get it off the books and in their wisdom decreed that he’d wandered off into the bush and perished. This was a bloke who grew up in the bush and a WWII vet but because of the reputation he had, which was fairly deserved by all accounts ... not a mention anywhere. To make matters worse the police had a very strong suspicion who the culprit was but could never prove it. I feel for Miss Butterworth’s family as my father, uncles and aunts went through the same thing and the surviving family members still do. The story needs telling certainly and people brought to book. The big difference between Miss Butterworth and my uncle is that some of the main protagonists are still around ... where in the case of my uncle they are not. I hope for her family’s sake there can be some closure ... where in our case there won’t be.

• Simon Warriner in Comments: There is a lesson in all this. Especially when it is taken in concert with the case John Hayward wrote about earlier this year ... ( HERE ). Governor Underwood was right in what he told the assembled students at Yolla School, that justice and the rule of law only ever prevails while the legal system and the courts have our respect. Mr Simon Cooper might well ponder what contribution his performance as described has made to respect for the “system”.

• Pete Godfrey in Comments: Hi Paul, well it really sounds like someone is being protected very well to me. And it is not you. How disappointing to have so much evidence just ignored. As you say it seems to be the way things are done here. I went to an RPDC tribunal once to assist some folk in a planning matter. The whole thing was a farce that appeared to be set up to back the newly-made Protection of Agricultural Land Policy …

• Paul Tapp in Comments: Comments are appreciated. I expected to be treated with a bit more respect but as I told SC assisting that Lesage’s unchecked false testimony would make for an interesting chapter in my book on the Lucille mystery. But without becoming too cynical about the quality of jurisprudence in this State, I was urged by many to at least put my treatment on record. Not just as an insight into how we who dare, fare at the coal-front of probity are treated but to acknowledge the courage of practitioners as Caroline Graves who readily came to my assistance. My view now is that such a hearing should never have been before a coroner, given the enormity of logistics required to hear accounts from witnesses from such a diverse demographic. But its early days and I would like to think that Madame Jurisprudence might be doing some probing of her own to ensure that witnesses should not be so intimidated by an antediluvian yes/no system to a point where they simply won’t come forward …

• Isla MacGregor in Comments: Paul, your battle with the corrupted adversarial legal system in Tasmania sends a big message to the Tasmanian community - that the adversarial legal system has gone past its use by date and we must implement the truth seeking European inquisitorial system of justice in Australia. You are not alone Paul - there are many in Tasmania who stand shoulder to shoulder with you yet.

• Lynne Newington in Comments: From a distance, something wonderful going on here. Strong men standing for men whose allegiance isn’t to a political or religious body.

• lola moth in Comments: … It is sometimes difficult to do the right thing when it comes to our justice system. Sometimes we are made out to be the bad guy when all we are trying to do is help. When the people we thought were on the same side as us turn around and bite us we hurt all the more from the sense of betrayal. Just remember Paul, that the only person who is right behind you all the way is Lucille and she appreciates everything you have ever done for her in this case.

• Paul Tapp in Comments: … Pete Donnelly had gone to my ‘funeral’ (a namesake) and drove on with a friend from SBS to my home in Orford, when he knew I was still in the land of the living. Must admit we laughed a lot. But he did tell me all my material, award-winning footage, stories and the high-profile coverage of events in my tenure as cop reporter at Aunty had been removed from ABC archives. Sadly and ironically at the same time as I was tangling with the Butterworth inquest, Pete died and I didn’t get to see him off …

• Paul Tapp in Comments: … A debate must include the fact that my information, readily made to the coroner seems to have been purposely denied him. If so, the implications are John Haywood, that the renovators were hard at work so that all the simple-minded taxpayers who unwittingly support the largesses of our subjective justice system can simply watch the footy and the reality TV shows and the no-news news without much time to think about anything else. And that’s exactly what the renovators want.