Harsh Consequences

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Chapter 4

Mitch contacted Alison to inform her of his predicament. They don’t have a family Lawyer of their own; they never had the requirement. Mitch had to ask Alison to try and find a suitable criminal legal advisor for him. At this time of the night, it wouldn’t be easy.

Alison contacted her parents and they recommended their own Lawyer to her. To a drowning man, that was as close to a life line as any, so they took it.

Alison contacted her parent’s Lawyer on Mitch’s behalf. It was late on a Friday night so there was always a concern the Lawyer would not be available, or maybe he had a few end-of-the-week wines and could not come out.

As it turned out, the Lawyer answered Alison’s call and he agreed to help. He advised Alison to tell Mitch not to say anything further to the police until he arrived at the police station.


Mitch sat with his elbows on the table and his head in his hands waiting for his Lawyer. He lifted his eyes to the sound of squeaking hinges when the interview room door opened. A bearded man in his fifties, dressed in a dark suit and carrying a brief case entered the room. Mitch sat back in his chair, watching the man approach.


‘Mitchell Dunne…?’

‘That’s right.’

The man extended his hand. ‘Mitchell, my name is Frank Morgan.’ Mitch shook the man’s hand. ‘I’m a Barrister with Morgan, Finch and Day, here in Geelong. Your wife Alison contacted me and asked me to attend here to assist you.’

‘Thank you for coming out so late.’

Frank placed his briefcase on the table and slid into the chair opposite Mitch. He flicked open the latches on his brief case and removed a yellow pad and pencil, which he placed onto the table. The lawyer checked his watch then commenced to make notes. Mitch watched on.

‘Now…’ Frank began. ‘I’ve had a quick chat with the arresting Detectives outside before I came in here, so I could get an understanding of what charges you are facing.’

’OK…but…you said arresting Detectives…’

‘That’s right. Ah…’ The Lawyer referred to his notes. ‘Detective Sergeant Brian Dench and Senior Detective Phil Cox.’

‘Yeah, I know who they are…but at what stage was I under arrest?’

The Lawyer held Mitch’s gaze as he sat back in his chair. He briefly glanced around the small interview room in which they were seated. ‘I’m not sure I understand your question, Mitch…You are aware you are sitting in a police station interview room, are you not?’

Mitch’s eyes narrowed at the Lawyer. His lips pressed together as he fell back into his chair. Is he being condescending? ‘You’re not serious, are you?’ Mitch said rhetorically. ‘Of course I know I’m sitting in a police station…I’m not an idiot…’

‘Ok. Fair enough. But I don’t understand your question. How do you think you came to be in here?’

‘The cops brought me in here. But they never told me I was under arrest. In fact, they told me that what I did was self-defence and if they were in the same position, they would have done exactly the same thing.’

‘I see…’ The Lawyer stroked his bearded chin. ‘Did they discuss the circumstances of the shooting with you tonight?’

‘Of course…in detail. I told them my story and how I believe it was self-defence.’

’Did they caution you at any time before they asked you any questions relating to the shooting…?’

Mitch shook his head. ‘No. We discussed what happened. They asked a series of questions to obviously establish some of the facts…but they never cautioned me. See, that is why you threw me when you said I was arrested.’

Frank made notes as Mitch spoke.

‘They put these paper bags over my hands…’ Mitch held up his open hands. ‘To preserve the GSR apparently, but they told me it was procedure and I had nothing to worry about. Does that sound like I was under arrest to you...?’

Frank continued to make notes. He shook his head. ‘No, it doesn’t. But what I think is irrelevant,’ Frank said. ‘Did you at any time think you had no choice but to accompany the police to the police station?’

‘See that’s a tough one to answer…’ Mitch said.

‘Well, did you think at any time that, I don’t want to go, so I’m going to stay here..?’

‘Of course not. I had just shot someone who killed my Dad and rushed at me with a hammer. I also shot and killed another one who rushed at me with a machete…so, I was aware that the police had to get involved. But I thought I was assisting them in their inquiries…not arrested. The two Detectives were friendly and certainly empathetic, but they never suggested I was under arrest. In fact, it wasn’t until we came back here that they told me the second guy I shot had died and I am facing a Murder charge… How can that be murder? Is it murder?’

The Lawyer continued to make some notes. ‘Let’s not burden ourselves with that at this time,’ Frank said. He continued to make notes. The Lawyer checked his watch. ‘Now…the police are going to interview you. It will be a video recorded interview. I will be present to offer my support when necessary.’

Mitch nodded. ‘OK.’ He gulped heavily.

‘As your legal advisor, it is my advice that you say, “I have no recollection of what happened”, or words to that effect, then you do not answer any of the police questions…OK? They—’

‘Why…?’ Mitch extended a hand towards the door. ‘I’ve already told them I shot those guys…’

The Lawyer flicked the back of his hand at Mitch. ’Doesn’t matter what you said earlier Mitch, they can’t use any of that, OK. I will argue that any questions they asked will be inadmissible because you were not properly cautioned in relation to your rights about not having to answer any questions. Let me ask you this…if the police did caution you…would you still have openly discussed what happened tonight?’

‘If they’d cautioned me…?’ Mitch repeated as a question, while he considered his response. He shook his head once. ‘No. I wouldn’t have said anything…’

‘And why wouldn’t you say anything…?’

’Coz if they cautioned me I would have realised I could be in some sort of trouble, so I would’ve watched what I said to them…’

‘Exactly,’ the Lawyer said. ‘They didn’t caution you and you made full admissions about shooting those men,’ Frank said. ‘So, as I was saying…You tell them you do not wish to answer any questions because you have no recollection of what occurred in your Dad’s home earlier tonight. It is your right to refuse to answer any questions they put to you. By saying nothing, you can’t incriminate yourself. Do you understand…?’

Mitch’s mind raced. He rubbed his perspiring hands over his thighs.

‘Now…’ Frank again checked his watch. ‘I suspect we won’t have sufficient time to discuss the detail of what happened tonight, but at some stage I need to discuss with you exactly what happened and what you told the police in relation to this incident. And I need to know in as much detail as you can remember. I want to know how you felt, what you felt, what you heard, what you saw, what you did, what you said, what the police said to you…absolutely everything you can recall. It is important that you don’t leave anything out, OK?’

Mitch nodded his understanding. He commenced to detail the summary of events that transpired earlier tonight while his Lawyer scribbled notes. On a number of occasions Frank had to stop Mitch, so he could catch up with his writing.

The interview room door opened before he could finish his summary of events. Detective Sergeant Dench entered the room. ‘Thanks Counsellor…’ the Sergeant said.

The lawyer nodded. He commenced to pack up his paperwork.

‘I need you to come with me Mitch…’ the Sergeant said. ‘We have to move to another room for the interview.’ The Sergeant extended his hand towards the door.

Mitch pushed himself from his chair and stood. He looked at his Lawyer. The Lawyer nodded his reassurance.

‘Mr Dunne has asked that I be present during any interview, Sergeant,’ The Lawyer said.

‘We fully expected that would be the case.’

Mitch exited the interview room and moved into the adjoining room; same dimensions, same lack of décor. The centrally located table sat perpendicular to the end wall. A video camera unit was assembled at the end of the table, against the wall. One chair was positioned at the end of the table furthest from the camera. Two chairs were on one side of the table and a single chair on the other.

Detective Sergeant Dench gestured to the chair at the end of the table. ‘Take a seat there Mitch,’ he said.

Mitch nervously slid into the seat and leaned on his elbows. He examined the video camera opposite. The Sergeant gestured to the single chair located to Mitch’s left. ‘That seat is for you Mr Morgan.’

The Lawyer moved to his allocated seat and sat. Sergeant Dench left the room. He returned a short time later with Detective Senior Constable Cox. Both men slid into their respective seats.

‘I assume you haven’t been through this process before…’ The Sergeant gestured to the video unit.

‘You assume correctly,’ Mitch said. ‘This is actually very intimidating.’ Mitch said, as he wiped his clammy hands together.

‘I get that…’ the Sergeant said. ‘As an explanation of what is going to happen…’ the Sergeant began. ‘When we start recording I will explain to you the purpose of this interview…put any allegations to you. OK?’

Mitch nodded his understanding. His throat was dry. He couldn’t swallow. His eyes fell to the glass of water the Sergeant poured for him earlier. Mitch lifted the glass and took a sip. His eyes remained locked on the Sergeant as the Detective continued.

‘Then I will offer you a formal caution… you know, you don’t have to say anything unless you want to… yada yada yada.’ Mitch glanced at his Lawyer as the Sergeant continued. ‘Then we will confirm your rights have been met, such as, you have been given the opportunity to call and let someone know you are here…call your lawyer etc.,’ he gestured to Mr Morgan. ‘Once this is completed, I will start with our questions. They will be just like you see on TV and in the movies…It will be a Q and A type of discussion. At some time during the interview I will suspend the interview so we can return to your Dad’s house where we will conduct a walk-through of the crime scene. During the walk-through, which will of course be video recorded, you will describe what happened and where. Do you have any questions?’

‘Not at this time.’

The Sergeant looked at the Lawyer. ‘Mr Morgan….?’

‘Nothing from me.’

‘OK…’ the Sergeant rubbed his hands together. ‘Let’s begin.’ He activated the video camera.

Once all the interview preamble was completed, Sergeant Dench commenced with his questions establishing Mitch’s identity. Questions such as, full name, date of birth, residential address, marital status, dependants and occupation and whether he identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. Mitch readily answered each of these questions when asked.

‘What can you tell me about an incident that occurred earlier tonight at 14 Hillview Court in Highton that resulted in the shooting of two males, both of whom are now deceased?’

‘Not too much, actually.’

The Sergeant held Mitch’s gaze. ‘OK. Start with who lives at 14 Hillview Court Highton,’ the Sergeant said.

‘My parents…Max and Jenny Dunne.’

‘What time did you arrive there earlier this evening?’

‘I don’t know what time it was. I was on my way home after work…’

‘What happened after you arrived at this address?’

‘I remember my Dad offered to get me a beer…but the rest is a blur,’ Mitch said.

The Sergeant exchanged a brief glance with his colleague. ‘A blur…?’ The Sergeant repeated. He adjusted himself in his chair. ’What do you recall?’

‘Nothing,’ Mitch said. ‘Well, nothing until the ambo flashed a light in my eyes…’

‘Do you recall speaking with Detective Senior Constable Cox and myself at your parent’s home...?’

‘Yes. I remember everything that happened up until my Dad went to get me a beer. Someone pounded heavily on the front door... After that…’ Mitch shook his head. ‘It’s all blank. Then I remember an Ambo waking me…I didn’t even know I had passed out. But I remember everything after that. Speaking to you guys and the two uniform cops...them bagging my hands…’

‘Do you recall telling Detective Senior Constable Cox and myself at your parent’s home that you shot the man holding the hammer, as he ran away?’

‘I don’t recall saying that.’ Mitch shrugged. ‘I could’ve, but I don’t recall.’

‘This is all very convenient, Mr Dunne…’ The Sergeant said.

Mitch’s face tightened. ‘Convenient...?’ Mitch said. His eyes flicked between the two cops glaring back at him. ‘How is the fact I’m sitting here being interviewed by the police, convenient?’

’Your memory now seems to be conveniently failing you. Do you remember anything at all from the incident at your parent’s house from earlier tonight?’

‘No. Well…like I said…up until someone knocked at Dad’s front door, then nothing until I woke up with the Ambo shining a light in my eyes and I remember most of what happened after that.’

‘Are you sure this is not just case of avoiding answering my questions because your Lawyer told you to…’ The Sergeant glared across at the Lawyer.

‘I’m answering your questions, aren’t I….?’

‘Not the part relating to the shooting…’ The Sergeant said.

‘How can I be expected to answer questions about that which I don’t know, or can’t recall,’ Mitch responded firmly. ‘Do you want me to confess to something, Sergeant…?’ Mitch gestured to the video camera. ‘Is that what you want…?’

‘No. I want you to honestly answer the questions I put to you. Do you intend to—’

‘Honestly answer…?’ Mitch questioned. ‘Are you suggesting that I am not being honest in my responses…?’ Mitch said.

’I am saying that you appear to be avoiding answering my questions. Do you intend to answer any of my questions Mitch?’

‘You know what…’ Mitch sat back in chair and crossed his arms. ‘I have no clear recollection of what occurred tonight in relation to a shooting so, it might be best that I don’t say anything further about that which I have little, to no recollection.’

The Sergeant also sat back in his chair. He glared at the Lawyer sitting opposite and slowly shook his head.

‘Are you prepared to participate in a walk-through of the scene where the shootings occurred earlier tonight?’ the Sergeant asked Mitch.

‘I don’t see any point in that exercise, Sergeant. I know my parent’s house. I can describe it to you in detail…but I have already told you and I don’t think I can make myself any clearer…I can’t remember what happened there tonight...’

‘Maybe it will all come back to you when you get there…’

Mitch rolled his eyes. ‘Look. Tell me this…Am I compelled to participate in this…’ Mitch waved the back of his hand at the cop. ‘This...video recorded walk-through interview thing you refer to…?’

‘No.’

‘Then I decline on the grounds that I cannot recall anything that occurred.’ Mitch looked to his Lawyer who returned a discreet single nod.

The Sergeant dropped his pen onto the table in protest. He glared at Mitch, holding his glare for an extended time. Mitch was resolute. He held the Sergeant’s glare.

‘Would you be able to identify the men who attacked your father earlier tonight?’

Mitch sat with arms defiantly crossed. ‘I don’t wish to make any comment, thank you.’

‘Are you able to say whether these attackers were Caucasian or dark skinned?’

Mitch remained unmoved. He held the Sergeant’s gaze as he said, ‘I do not wish to make any comment, thank you Sergeant.’

’So, I take it that you will be making a ‘No comment’ response to all my questions, is that right?’

Mitch shrugged. ‘No comment…’

‘Is there anything at all you want to say, anything you want to tell me in relation to this matter?’

‘No.’

Detective Sergeant Dench formally read Mitch his charges — two counts of murder. He then cautioned Mitch and ended the interview.

The Sergeant sighed heavily as he shut off the camera. He pushed himself away from the table and stood. He glared down at Mitch. ‘I think you just made a huge mistake Mitch…That was your opportunity to make your self-defence case.’ The Sergeant gestured with his hand. ‘Stand up.’ His direction was firm.

Mitch was returned to the interview room he earlier sat in, to wait for a Justice of the Peace to attend at the police station for a bail hearing.


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