Miscarriage of justice in Western Australia: the case of Gene Gibson

Tamara Simone Tulich, Harry Blagg, Ava Hill-de Monchaux

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


On 12 April 2017, the Western Australian Court of Appeal overturned the conviction of Gene Gibson, a young Aboriginal man who had spent nearly 5 years in prison after pleading guilty to the manslaughter of Joshua Warneke. The Court of Appeal quashed Mr Gibson’s manslaughter conviction on the basis that he suffered a miscarriage of justice, as he did not have the language skills or cognitive ability to understand the legal process. This article outlines the systemic failings of the Western Australian justice system highlighted by this case in responding to Aboriginal peoples and, in particular, Aboriginal persons suspected of having some form of cognitive impairment. We argue that the reforms instigated by WA Police in response to this case, while welcome changes, will not, of themselves, resolve many of the underlying problems that led to this miscarriage of justice. These reforms need to be accompanied by changes to Western Australia’s mentally impaired accused regime and must, we argue, be developed within a broader paradigm shift that strengthens community justice mechanisms and ensures greater partnership with Aboriginal people.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-142
Number of pages25
JournalGriffith Journal of Law and Human Dignity
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


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