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Injustice claim in motorcycle tragedy

Police injustice sentence
Husband Mick and Judith on their wedding day

“My life was so terribly destroyed in front of my face,” says rider rights advocate Judith Kuerschner who is fighting an injustice after her husband, Mick Pedersen, was killed in a collision with a driver turning in front of him.

Now Judith is not only working to restore the honour of her husband, but also claim justice on behalf of all motorcyclists treated unfairly and prejudicially by police and the courts, as well as develop improved driver education programs.

 - police injustice
Mick Pedersen

She claims that in her case, the Northern Territory police sided with the driver from the start of investigations, didn’t take proper statements, ignored her eyewitness account and fabricated evidence.

Judith says her sad and emotional tale began over 18 months ago when she and Mick were out riding with a couple of friends on a local NT road, popular with motorcyclists. The accident happened on a 1km straight stretch of 100km/h road with no road markings or signs banning overtaking.

“All four of us were following a driver, and her passenger with their dog, in a white Subaru along this straight stretch of road. The first rider overtook her, no issues, the second rider, along with my husband, went out to overtake her as well about half way along this straight stretch of road.

“As my husband was alongside her, she clearly moved towards the right hand side of the road, and, with a single flash of her indicator, began to veer on to the wrong side of the road to cut the corner on to an unmarked dirt track leading to a hole in the fence to crown land where trespassers are not permitted.

“As I was on my motorcycle some 50m behind the scene, I was in the unfortunate position as the only witness to the event; a fact the police have ignored from day one.”

Mick was impaled on the ‘A’ pillar of the Subaru and killed instantly, just 3 1/2 months shy of their third wedding anniversary and four months shy of his 40th birthday.

Mick Pedersen - Police injustice

“My life was so terribly destroyed in front of my face,” says Judith.

But this was merely the beginning of Judith’s 18-month nightmare.

She says that even before investigators had attended the scene, the police released a statement to the media accusing her husband of illegally overtaking.

She says investigators went to the home of the female driver and her partner but didn’t take statements, allowing them the evening to “get their stories straight”. They went to the police station the next day to give their statements.

Judith says police called to the home of the other two riders – neither of whom were aware of the crash until they returned to look for Mick and Judith some time after – yet did not contact her or attend her house for a statement.Mick and his Honda - Police injustice

Instead, they negotiated to secure her statement through a third party and were “not even all that keen to take my statement at all”.

Judith says she gave two supplementary statements in the two days after her initial statement, but they were not documented.

“Right from day one the sergeant informed me that I’d need to be prepared for the driver never to be charged,” she says. “I didn’t realise this would include no traffic offences either, but it did.

“Their attitude, expressed to my mother-in-law, was that she (the driver) had suffered enough.”

Judith claims the police fabricated evidence, contaminated her husband’s blood sample with THC and accused him of speeding, despite the absence of any supporting evidence. Judith eventually secured a legal intervention to force police to re-test her husband’s blood sample.

“They have lied and tortured me for over 18 months – further exacerbated by the miscarriage of justice that continued with the Inquest,” she says.

Judith's tribute to her husband - police injustice
Judith’s inked tribute to her husband

Judith claims the Coroner speculated on her husband’s culpability and didn’t even check that the dates of the inquest or the fatal crash were listed correctly in the report.

Judith is now applying to the Supreme Court for a new inquest.

“Justice, for the death of my husband, is all I seek,” she says.

“The police have treated his death with as much care as that of a dead kangaroo on the side of the road – they have treated his life with no more value than that of road kill.

“While I can’t go back and change the actions of the driver and prevent this from having happened, I can certainly change the way the police go about their business, their attitudes towards motorcyclists (and other minority groups) and their treatment of victims such as myself.”

Judith is now also working closely with the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party over proposals for changes to driver education and is helping plan the first Road Safety Summit in May 2015.

If you believe you have been presumed guilty by police investigators or suffered an injustice by the courts, please contact us.

  1. To not fully and properly investigate this matter is an absolute travesty of justice. Police around the nation are quick to target bikers, car enthusiasts and truck drivers because they’re in the minority and seen as easy targets – it’s easier to place the blame squarely at the feet of the minority than to upset the status-quo; and the powers-that-be count on there being little if any backlash from the apathetic majority. Time for an inquiry and subsequent attitude adjustment for the authorities and for the majority.

  2. A friend of mine recently had a police car do a U turn in front of him. He had to hit the brakes very hard to avoid a collision. The police were doing the U-turn to chase another rider heading in the opposite direction to the police car. In doing so, they appeared not to care at all about the oncoming rider they put in danger – more determined to catch the bike ahead of him.

  3. And you wonder especially in the regional ares if the at-fault driver or family is known to the investigating police.
    I know of at least one case where the victim had his bloods done [he was unconscious] while the at-fault driver was not even breathalysed.
    Really it sounds more like 1950s, American, deep south than 21st century Aus.

  4. Firstly I wish to convey my sincere condolances to Judith on the sad loss of her husband Mick. I would have thought the injuries the rider sustained from the side column of the car would be proof enough as to where the car was in relation to where the bike made impact. Has the Police Ombudsman been contacted & what is the outcome. This is definately a miscariage of justice for Judith & also to clear Mick of doubt over who was in the wrong. BTW with damage to the drivers (right hand) side that puts the blame on the car driver??

    1. Yes, you would’ve thought the injury patterns from the impact would’ve made it quite clear as to where he was at the time, and, having read the autopsy report myself, they did. However, even when presented with a drawing of how the impact occurred (because I was there and saw it occur) the police still dismissed it with the comment “it’s possible it could’ve happened like that, but we don’t think so”. They had chosen to ignore everything else I told them as the only eye witness in a position to see what was unfolding in front of them, instead of grasping to recreate memories from what might have been seen in a split second glance in a rear view mirror, so why choose to believe me when presented with a drawing of the impact?

  5. Whilst I fee l sorry for Ms Kuerschner’s loss this story is a very one sided view of events. There was a coronial inquiry and the report can be found here:

    Perhaps some fairness to all parties will ne realised if the reporter bothered to read it instead of giving only one view. Please note that the evidence most relied upon by the coroner were of the two motorcyclists travelling with them.

    1. If you had bothered to read the article, you would read that the inquest is being challenged. And, the fact that neither of the other two riders were even aware that the crash had occurred until well after the event, their statements are made from re-created images of what they ‘might have’ seen from split second glances in their rear view mirror. Hardly credible or accurate when compared to a person who was concentrating on what was in front of them as the incident was unfolding.

  6. And this is why I stand by the fact that all motorcyclists are to wear helmet cameras.

    I don’t care if a police officer wants to give me a fine or to tell me to turn it off. It is used for my protection and the protection of anyone around me.

    I am sincerely sorry for your loss, as I have also recently lost a distant cousin in a motorcycle accident. Although I am thinking he was in the wrong in his instance, but again, with the proper camera attachment all would have been found out.

  7. I cannot find a more appropriate statement than “it sounds more like 1950s, American, deep south than 21st century Australia.” Well said.

  8. sorry for the loss, but people should read the coroners report and not simply rely on a writer a grieving partner for an accurate account.

    1. Hey Dave, the ‘grieving partner’ as you put it, was the only person to see the event occur in its entirety. And the Coroner, making up his own speculations, like the police, has chosen to ignore the one person who saw everything. It would appear that you have not read the coroners report either, or do you believe the coroner to have ‘mind reading’ powers to determine what was going through the rider’s thoughts prior to impact?
      As was pointed out by (police officer) Mr McAdie in the previous comment – the coroner based his conclusions on the accounts from the two other riders – neither of whom saw the collision, or were even aware that it had occured until returning to the scene some time later.
      I’m sure that it was probably people like yourself and Mr McAdie who would have tried to dissude Daniel Morcombe’s parents in their pusuit of justice as well.
      Quite frankly – this is ‘the other side of the story’ because the lies from the police, which the Coroner did not allow to be questioned, is what is being spouted to negate the fact that a man lost his life, and no body is being made to accept responsibility for the taking of that life.
      And Dave, you think saying ‘sorry for the loss’ means anything?
      Like his killer – in saying those words to his mother – she was only sorry that he got in her way, and that there was the chance she might have been made accountable for her actions that day.

  9. I know it wont bring him back Judith,m I am sorry for your loss. Good luck with the ordering of a rehearing and I hope that justice can be done for Mick.

  10. Sadly this is not uncommon behavior by police. I am a cyclist and motorcyclist and the spinal injuries I have are from a cycling rear ending where the driver basically had a few TINs issued. I was never sought for a formal statement and I even had video evidence that was ignored as a result.

    I have picked myself up and banded together with others like yourself to get changes in law. The cycling safe passing legislation in QLD is a result of myself and another very passionate road safety advocate and is now rolling out across the country. It can be done and I wish you every bit of luck with your AMEP campaign.

    Sean Harrison
    Safe Cycling Australia

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