Ex-Policeman Faces Perjury Case
A mother has told of her relief at a significant development
more than five years after the mysterious death of her teenage daughter.
Jacqueline Shadforth's daughter Angela Mealing, 17, disappeared
in April 2000 after apparently accepting a lift from an off-duty
police officer on the outskirts of Cairns.
Police yesterday arrested the former officer, Adrian Deemal, and
charged him with perjury relating to the death.
Ms Shadforth said she felt overwhelmed when The Sunday Mail informed
her of the development, which followed her public campaign to keep the case alive.
"It's been so long. I've been fighting and fighting," she said.
Ms Mealing's remains were found six months after her disappearance,
on the banks of Behana Creek, about 30km south of Cairns.
The case became one of the state's most baffling mysteries. A noose
was found hanging in a tree near Ms Mealing's remains and a note had
been carved in a tree saying: "I'm sorry mum be strong not your fault".
Her family refused to believe she committed suicide and police initially
cautioned that the scene could have been staged.
On the night of her disappearance, Ms Mealing had been assaulted by three
girls at a party and later by a male youth.
She was walking toward her home in a distressed state on the outskirts of
the city when Deemal, a constable, said he picked her up.
Deemal later told investigators he dropped her off at her request at
Gordonvale, 25km south of Cairns.
He was dismissed from the police service for making conflicting statements
about the night Ms Mealing disappeared.
A coroner could not establish how Ms Mealing had died, because of the
decomposed state of her remains, but was not satisfied she had died from hanging.
Deemal will appear in Cairns Magistrates Court on August 1, with the
charge carrying a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.
A brief police statement confirmed the charge.
"It is alleged evidence he gave to the Queensland Crime Commission in
relation to the death of Angela Mealing in April 2000 was misleading,"
the statement said.
"The charges result from a review of the investigation of Ms Mealing's
death conducted by police from the far northern region."
The Crime Commission spent almost a month taking evidence on the case in
2000, using its powerful and secretive "star chamber" powers to compel
witnesses to give evidence.
Witnesses were legally required to provide truthful evidence to the
Crime Commission hearings.
Ms Shadforth had gone to the media for help in progressing investigations,
with the case featuring on Channel 9's Queensland's Unsolved: A
Crimewatch Special late last year.
Ms Shadforth yesterday said she thought of her daughter "every second
of the day".
"She just finished senior, she was going to TAFE and passing everything,
she was going to driving lessons – she was happy."
The Sunday Mail (Qld) (17-7-2005)