Eddie Murray (rugby league)

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Eddie Murray
Born (1959-12-06)6 December 1959
Died 12 June 1981(1981-06-12) (aged 21)
Cause of death Undetermined causes, whilst in police custody
Nationality Australian
Occupation Rugby league footballer

Edward James Murray (6 December 1959– 12 June 1981) was an Australian rugby league footballer who was controversially found dead in his police cell in the New South Wales town of Wee Waa within an hour of having been detained for being drunk and disorderly[1] under the 1979 Intoxicated Persons Act[2] (a law repealed in 2005). Murray had planned to travel to Sydney, to join the Redfern All Blacks Rugby League team's tour of New Zealand when he was detained.

Police claimed that they found Murray hanging in his cell at the Wee Waa Police Station[3] around 3:30pm,[4] and argued that he committed suicide, although this occurred prior to the majority of Aboriginal deaths in custody which were later examined in the 1987 Royal Commission.[5] He was 21 years old at the time.[6] Eddie Murray's parents, Leila Jane (née Button) and Arthur Edward Murray remained unconvinced that their son's death was a suicide, and fought for a more extensive investigation into Murray's death. Murray's death has helped to draw attention to the issue of Aboriginal deaths in custody.

Murray's case has drawn the attention of several investigations, including the Muirhead Royal Commission, the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board Report on Street offences, and his case was one of the first to be investigated by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in 1988.[7]

In 1997, Murray's body was exhumed and re-autopsied, revealing a previously undetected smashed sternum, and a forensic pathologist determined that the injury had most likely occurred immediately prior to his death. Despite this, the details of his death remain a mystery, and still no one has been officially implicated in his death. This has been to the dissatisfaction of Murray's family, who have called for a more extensive inquiry.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Eddie Murray Death in Custody Inquiry Uanita Nielsen Murder Investigation". Parliament of New South Wales. 22 June 2004. Archived from the original on 3 September 2006. Retrieved 2008-08-22. 
  2. ^ http://home.vicnet.net.au/~aar/deaths.htm
  3. ^ "Indigenous Justice/Social Rights". Justice Action. Retrieved 2008-08-22. 
  4. ^ "Too Much Wrong: A report into the death of Eddie Murray". Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. 1999-11-25. Retrieved 2008-08-22. 
  5. ^ Smith, William E.; Dunn, John (9 January 1989). "Australia A Cry of Desperation Why do Aborigines die in police custody?". Time Magazine. Archived from the original on 10 March 2010. Retrieved 22 August 2008. 
  6. ^ http://www.johnpilger.com/page.asp?partid=23
  7. ^ "Public Drunkenness Laws in Australia". Aboriginal Law Bulletin. December 1988. Archived from the original on 10 September 2006. Retrieved 2008-08-22.