Teens charged with murder as Cape York community riots
TWO teenage males have been charged with murder over the stabbing death of a man in Aurukun as the community continues to riot.
The pair, aged 18 and 17, were taken into custody late last night, several hours after the 37-year-old man was pronounced dead in the Cape York community's medical centre after suffering a stab wound to his abdomen.
They have both been charged with murder.
Police have confirmed the males have been removed from the community which remains in major upheaval following the incident.
Multiple extra police have been flown in from around Cape York and Cairns to both assist with the investigation and try to calm the community.
The Cairns Post has been told of large-scale damage around town with several buildings set on fire and property damaged.
Far North police Chief Supt Brian Huxley said yesterday people had armed themselves with makeshift weapons and both the medical centre and police station were placed in lockdown.
A police spokesman said people were armed with sticks and metal bars as news of the man's death spread.
"The group dispersed for a period of time before reforming and breaking into houses and vehicles, damaging property and in some instances starting fires, while searching for the two teens," he said.
"Additional people joined the group and at one point approximately 200 people attended the airport looking for the pair.
"There was some reported minor damage and no reported injuries."
Initial reports of damage included six dwellings set on fire, sustaining varying degrees of damage including some being destroyed, two other dwelling sustaining fire damage to their outside, as well as a number of cars damaged or set alight.
Some police vehicles also sustained minor damage.
The spokesman said community leaders were joining with police to call for calm.
"The anger of the crowd was directed towards family or local residents they believed had some link with the two teenagers," he said.
The 18-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, appeared in the Cairns Magistrates Court briefly this morning and was remanded in custody with his case adjourned until April.
The 17-year-old will be dealt with in the Children's Court.
Far North police Supt Geoff Sheldon described the man's death as "tragic" and reiterated the call for calm.
"Can I also assure them that police have and will continue to conduct a thorough investigation into his death.
"The level of threats and property destruction that we saw yesterday and overnight in Aurukun is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
"Police have taken into custody and charged two teenagers with murder. Their families and associates should not have to live in fear of reprisals.
"Police will continue to liaise closely with elders and community members, as well as the families of all involved.
"The safety of everyone in the community is our priority and we will do everything to support the community during this time."
He said extra police were expected to stay in the community for several days.
A major investigation has been launched into both the homicide and the unrest and associated offences such as arson and wilful destruction. Additional specialist police such as detectives, scientific and scenes of crimes officers will be sent to Aurukun to assist with the investigations.
Police said they would also work closely with the staff and families of all government agencies located in the township.