Unreserved

How Allan Clarke's true crime investigation re-opened a 30-year-old cold case

Allan Clarke saw himself when he began reporting on the death of Mark Haines, a 17-year-old Gomeroi boy who was found dead on train tracks in New South Wales, Australia in 1988.

Clarke's true crime podcast, 'Blood on the Tracks,' revisits the mysterious death of Indigenous teen

Allan Clarke is a Muruwari journalist for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. (ABC)

Allan Clarke saw himself when he began reporting on the 1988 death of Mark Haines, a 17-year-old Gomeroi boy who was found dead on train tracks in New South Wales, Australia.

Clarke, a Muruwari journalist for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, has spent the last six years investigating Haines' death, which was ruled suspicious.

In his investigation, Clarke said it seemed police couldn't be bothered to investigate Haines' death.

"He was just not worthy of police's time or the media's time, as opposed to other young, white teenagers who had died in similar circumstances," Clarke said. "Their cases elicited a lot of public empathy, a lot of police work to try and figure out what had happened to them."

"I wanted to take Mark's case and basically use that as a way to try to get proof that racism does play a role in these unsolved Aboriginal homicides."

He turned his investigation into a podcast called Blood on the Tracks, part of ABC's Unravel series. The podcast played a key role in getting the case re-opened.

I don't like talking about the emotional toll that it takes on me sometimes because it's not my pain to have.- Allan Clarke

 

Clarke said he couldn't help but think back to his own childhood while working on the case.

"The relationship between my community and the local police was very acrimonious. We were brought up to fear police. We had family members who had died in police custody. We had family members who had been murdered, and no one had ever done anything about it," he said.

"When I had met Mark's family, they felt like my family, in a sense, and it felt like my community."

"I don't like talking about the emotional toll that it takes on me sometimes because it's not my pain to have … I'm here for the family to give them a platform," he said. 

"Sometimes I'll become part of the family, and then sometimes I am the journalist. It's very hard to go between the two, sometimes. But I'm incredibly privileged and honoured to be able to share their story."

"From a very young age, all I wanted to do was address the injustice," Clarke said. "I could not see myself doing anything else."

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