Dr Colin Manock and the Baby Deaths – Ch 9 Oct 14, 2020

This Wednesday 14 October, at 8.40pm Channel 9 will broadcast ‘Bodies of Evidence’ as part of their Australian Crime Series. It will focus on the appalling failures in relation to the work of Dr Colin Manock, former chief forensic pathologist in South Australia for nearly 30 years.

In particular it will feature the deaths of three babies who Dr Manock said had died from bronchopneumonia, when in fact they had been beaten to death. The problems with his diagnosis were revealed over 25 years ago, but the Attorney-General and the police have never reopened the investigation to bring those responsible for these terrible tragedies to account, as Flinders University legal academic Dr Bob Moles points out.


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4 Responses to Dr Colin Manock and the Baby Deaths – Ch 9 Oct 14, 2020

  1. Lisa says:

    They gave him a pathology fellowship albeit his never having studied for the qualification! Clearly the medical profession was collusive in this being allowed to occur. A low level lecturer from Leeds was the State Pathologist for South Australia for nearly 30 years! Shocking. The poor babies’ broken-hearted families. His not being sacked after performing the Aboriginal man’s autopsy on the side of the road in 1978 is incomprehensible and indefensible. The grotesque action he engaged in with the deceased’s entrails showed how despicable and arrogant he was, and that he knew he was untouchable regardless of how horrendously he conducted himself. The Police officer who reported him and swore a comprehensive affidavit about that autopsy took a huge risk in standing up against the medical profession and being counted. Yet no action was taken. His responses to the questions about the non existent bruising that led to the Henry Keogh miscarriage of justice were woefully inadequate and showed just how incompetent he was. The cover ups conducted by successive governments are inexcusable. A Royal Commission?

  2. Chris says:

    Manock was a menace. But the fact that he lasted so many years also highlights the total inability of the legal system to assess scientific evidence. This fraud would have been rapidly exposed in a scientific community but was allowed to thrive in a legal one. The way the law deals with science has not changed since Manock´s time. This should concern people greatly. In particular, forensic medicine is in a terrible state in this country, it lacks scientific culture and methodology. The first step in making improvements is to ensure that all forensic reports are public, and thus open to scrutiny. This will be a step towards making it scientific instead of just appeals to authority, which is all it is right now.

    • andrew says:

      Agreed, Chris. Many if not most of the problems in the criminal justice system, like the one concerning forensic evidence, have been identified and articulated publicly. Many of the reforms that would help improve ‘the system’ likewise publicised. As you say, Manock was able to operate like a bull in a china shop even when it was known by the shopkeepers that the risks were great. It is as if the diagnosis has been made but the treatment is withheld. What to do? Who will act? I think it’s up to us, the public and the media, to apply the pressure that will begin the process of reform. We know that fear is a great motivator; so is self interest. Maybe we can devise a plan with that in mind?

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