Part Two: The Queen v Albury [2004] NTSC 59 

This is Part Two of a series examining recent developments in the indefinite incarceration of convicted murderer Andy Albury. You can read Part One here.

In 2004 the Northern Territory Director of Public Prosecutions applied to Chief Justice Brian Martin of the Supreme Court of the NT asking the Court to revoke the Albury’s 1984 non-parole period of 20 years and seeking an order refusing to fix a non-parole period in respect of the sentence; i.e. to make his detention indefinite.

The Court’s lengthy decision is the fullest available exposition of Albury’s crimes and circumstances.

For the sake of brevity I won’t go into the technical details of that application other than to note that those details—and the grisly circumstances of Gloria Pindan’s death at the hands of Andy Albury—can be accessed at the Court’s decision in The Queen v Albury [2004] NTSC 59.

What are more relevant are the references to Albury’s personal circumstances. Chief Justice Martin noted:

[34] As to matters personal to the respondent [Albury], he was born on 20 November 1961 and was, therefore, aged 22 years at the time of the murder. He had limited education reaching only grade 7 at a primary school in Darwin. According to information provided by the respondent’s mother to the investigating officer, at the age of about 15 or 16 years the respondent became uncontrollable and was placed in a boy’s home for nearly a year.

[35] In 1979 the respondent was employed as a contract pet meat shooter for nine months. Before and after that employment he spent periods on the dole. In 1981 he joined the army. The respondent told the investigating officer that he could not accept the discipline and faced a number of disciplinary charges. According to the respondent, in October 1981 he threatened to shoot one of his officers. He was discharged on 7 December 1981.

[36] The respondent also told the investigating officer that he had a hatred of persons of Aboriginal descent. He said he believed in the ideals of the Ku Klux Klan.

21 years a prisoner

Chief Justice Martin also assessed evidence before the Court of Albury’s twenty-one years of incarceration, noting [of course that term in 2024 is 41 years] in relation to Albury’s mental health and relevant diagnoses:

[47] … The report notes that there has been debate amongst the professionals who have attempted to arrive at a definitive diagnosis of the respondent’s mental disorder. A conclusion has been drawn that the respondent is dangerous, not because of a psychotic illness, but because of a psychopathic (dissocial) personality disorder.

[49] The respondent is a very difficult prisoner to manage. He is a danger to himself and to other prisoners. He has been involved in an extraordinarily large number of incidents over the 21 years.

[54] Dr Robertson expressed the view that there are serious problems with the previous diagnosis of chronic schizophrenia. He expressed the view that this was a misdiagnosis in 1988 and that the diagnosis is clearly one of psychopathic disorder.

[55] There is no challenge to the views expressed that the diagnosis of schizophrenia was incorrect. Based on all the material before me, I am satisfied that at the time the respondent committed the murder he was suffering from a severe personality disorder such as a psychopathic personality disorder. He intended to kill the deceased and enjoyed the infliction of violence and the killing. There are no subjective factors which mitigate the seriousness of the offence or the level of culpability in the commission of the offence.

Albury “spoke for some minutes in a calm and rational manner” “he would kill again if released he would kill again if released”

[58] In substance, the respondent said that if he was released from prison he would kill again. He said that everybody knows that he will never be released and that he will be a risk forever.

[59] I have no doubt that the respondent was making a calm and rational self-assessment of his own condition and of the likelihood that he would kill again if released.

On 3 August 2004 Chief Justice Martin received a letter from Albury that referred to his past crimes, his every-day needs in prison. The Court noted that:

Both the letter and the respondent’s address to the court demonstrate vividly the dreadful consequences of lengthy periods of imprisonment.

“PS – will kill again – it is what I do for an occupation.”

In a chilling passage Albury told Chief Justice Martin that: “My chance of re-offending in violent murderous manner is one hundred percent (hopefully soon)” and “… this is not some sort of weird attempt at justification for killing – I do what I do by choice (I think) or urge. Once again, I have no rights for any fucking thing – I don’t deserve them and I don’t need to see another psychiatrist …”.

“PS – will kill again – its what I do for an occupation.”

In conclusion Chief Justice Martin found that in all the circumstances, and noting his finding that Albury will almost certainly kill again if released, he was satisfied Albury’s culpability in Gloria Pindan’s murder was such that the community interest in retribution, punishment, protection and deterrence could only be met if Albury was imprisoned for the term of his natural life without the possibility of parole.

Chief Justice Martin acceded to the DPP’s application and revoked the previous non-parole period of 20 years and refused to fix a non-parole period.

At the conclusion of last Thursday’s hearing Justice Jenny Blokland—who had previously dealt with Andy Albury in January 2014 when he was before her on charges related to him setting his Alice Springs prison cell alight—required that updates on several matters be provided to the Court and the parties by late April.

There was a palpable sense of awkwardness and reluctant sympathy for Albury’s plight among those seized of responsibility for his future, particularly his obvious and understandable frustration with the failure of the Department of Corrections to find proper accommodation for Albury and deal with the recent diagnosis of autism.

The outstanding matters included an update on funding for suitable adaptions to Albury’s cell at the Holtze prison; details of progress with NDIS funding to deal with Albury’s diagnosis of autism and an update on the status of any application for an interstate transfer.

Justice Blokland ordered the matter be listed for further mention in late July.

“I’d like a trip to town.”

The last words belonged to Andy Albury, who asked that rather than attend the next hearing by video-link that he be allowed to travel into Darwin and attend at the Court in person.

“I’d like a trip to town.”

You can read Part One of this article here.