Tuckiar v The King

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Tuckiar v the King (1934))
Jump to: navigation, search
Tuckiar v The King
Coat of Arms of Australia.svg
Court High Court of Australia
Decided 8 November 1934
Citation(s) [1934] HCA 49, (1934) 52 CLR 335
Court membership
Judges sitting Gavan Duffy CJ, Starke, Dixon, Evatt and McTiernan JJ

Tuckiar v The King[1] is a landmark Australian judgment of the High Court. The matter examined the behaviour of the judge and lawyers in the trial of Dhakiyarr (Tuckiar) and has become a case study in and raises many issues for legal ethics regarding instructions by Judges and the behaviour of defence counsel and the treatment of Aboriginals before the Justice System.

Dhakiyarr (Tuckiar) Wirrpanda, a Yolngu Aboriginal man living a traditional life,[2] was sentenced to death in the Northern Territory Supreme Court for the murder by spearing of Constable Albert McColl on an island off Arnhem Land. McColl had gone to Arnhem Land with a police party to apprehend some Aboriginals thought to have killed the crew of a Japanese pearling lugger. When he was killed, McColl had been handcuffed to Djappari, a wife of Dhakiyarr.

The trial lasted only one day, and the all-white jury took just over two hours to find Tuckiar guilty. Defences of self-defence or provocation were not put to the jury.

The verdict was appealed to and overturned by the High Court of Australia.[3][4]

On the way home from the appeal Dhakiyarr was himself murdered by unknown assailants.

In an act of reconciliation, 38 descendants of Constable McColl, and around 200 descendants of Dhakiyarr Wirrpanda attended a 2003 ceremony in the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory, Darwin. This was chronicled in the 2004 film 'Dhakiyarr vs the King' by Tom Murray and Allan Collins, a film that went on to win the NSW Premier's History Award and be selected for the 2005 Sundance Film Festival.


  1. ^ Tuckiar v The King [1934] HCA 49, (1934) 52 CLR 335
  2. ^ Producer: Dr Tom Murray (2013-06-07). "Tuckier (Dhakiyarr) v the King and Territory". Hindsight. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Radio National. 
  3. ^ Ted Egan (1996) Justice All Their Own. Melbourne University Press.
  4. ^ Tom Murray and Allan Collins, Dhakiyarr vs the King. Film Australia 2004.

The Forbes Society. "TUCKIAR v THE KING (1934) (Chronology)" (PDF). Retrieved 20 June 2012. 

High Court of Australia. "Tuckiar v R (1934) 52 CLR 335". Retrieved 20 June 2012. 

Christine Parker, Adrian Evans (2007-02-22). Inside Lawyers' Ethics. ISBN 9781139461283. Retrieved 20 June 2012.