Wallace shooting report due soon

By David Fisher

A finding into the death of Waitara's Steven Wallace is imminent, signalling an end to public inquiries about the seven-year-old police shooting.

Coroner Gordon Matenga said he was finalising the report into Wallace's death and expected to release it "soon".

It is expected to be made public by the end of the month.

Wallace was fatally shot by police officer Keith Abbott in April 2000, after smashing windows and a police car with a baseball bat and golf clubs, and threatening to hit Abbott.

The death sparked a range of inquiries, with Wallace's family voicing anger at what was seen to be a lack of police accountability. The family launched a private murder prosecution against Abbott, in which he was acquitted by a jury.

The coroner's hearing was initially set for 2001 but was postponed until 2005 until the private prosecution had been completed. Matenga, who also examined police policies on violent offenders and first aid, heard the case but reserved his decision.

The lengthy delay has caused frustration for both the Wallace family and the Police Association.

Matenga told the Herald on Sunday: "I'm in the process of completing these findings. They should be available soon."

Asked if he meant weeks or months, he said "Not months. I know there's a sense of frustration from everyone."

The completion of the coroner's inquiry means the final step in the process can also be completed.

The findings of a Police Complaints Authority inquiry into the shooting will follow Matenga's report within months.

Wallace's mother, Raewyn, would not comment. Ron Mansfield, the family's lawyer, said comment would not be made until the finding was released.

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