Burt versus Titlow is a US Supreme Court case that provides some insight into Australia’s “Burking” policies and practices.
The short list URL is https://wp.me/p1n8TZ-1cv
Over time words change or grown broader in meaning: ‘Surfing’ isn’t just surfing and ‘Burking’ isn’t just burking.
For example, the word “Surfing” originally meant the recreational sport of ‘surfing the waves’ but today people ‘surf’ the Internet or surf’ radio and television broadcasts. We may also ‘surf the shops’ when looking for a bargain whilst some people “crowd surf” for the purpose of making a casual acquaintance .
In a similar manner, “Burking originally meant the crime of murdering a person, ordinarily by smothering, for the purpose of selling the corpse. The term originally derived its name from the method William Burke and William Hare, the Scottish murder team of the 18th century, used to kill their victims during the West Port murders. They realized that they could provide fresher bodies to medical schools for research by taking people who were intoxicated and suffocating them because they could not resist.”
Source: USLegal: https://definitions.uslegal.com/b/burking/
On 24th December, 1828, the High Court of Justiciary, sitting at Edinburgh in Scotland, heard a case brought by the Crown Prosecutor against William Burke for the alleged murder of Margery Campbell. William Burke was found guilty of this murder charge and just 5 weeks later on 28th January 1829, he was executed by hanging. The text of the 1828 trial of William Burke can be found at this URL:
Fast forward in time to November 5th 2013 and another burking murder trial, i.e. the United States Supreme Court sat in judgement in Burt v. Titlov:
Supreme Court of the United States No. 12–414 [November 5, 2013] Sherry L. Burt, Warden Petitioner v. Vonlee Nicole Titlow. [An appeal of Titlow v. Burt, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111459 (D. Mich. 2010)]
Basic facts of this case:
“A Michigan state court jury convicted Titlow of second degree murder for assisting his aunt, Billie Rogers, in killing his uncle, Donald Rogers, in August 2000. Titlow had been living with Billie and Donald Rogers at the time of Donald’s death. On August 12, 2000, police officers arrived at Donald’s house and found him dead on his kitchen floor with a drinking glass in his hand. The medical examiner never performed an autopsy the body, and the cause of death was initially determined to be a heart attack.”
“Shortly after Donald’s death, signs began to emerge that foul play may have been involved in the death. Such signs included: (1) the unnatural position of Donald’s body at the crime scene; (2) small scrapes found on Donald’s nose consistent with impressions made by a pillow; (3) reports from Titlow’s boyfriend that Titlow admitted to killing Donald; and (4) shortly after Donald’s death, Titlow received $100,000 and a new car from Billie, the sole beneficiary of Donald’s estate.” Source: https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/cert/12-414
The key to understanding the core characteristics of burking fatalities is found in two of the above statements:
“…they could not resist”
“The medical examiner never performed an autopsy [on] the body, and the cause of death was initially determined to be a heart attack.”
Core characteristic #1:
Burking victims of are people who are “unable to resist” what is being done to them, i.e. they lack to means to defend themselves, are overwhelmed and they die.
Core characteristic #2:
The initial, false assumption that the death was not unlawful as it appeared to be from natural causes, i.e. a heart attack. Since it was not considered to be a homicide and an autopsy to determine the MANNER OF DEATH is not initially required.
Just as the word “surfing” has now evolved to include ‘surfing the net’ and ‘crowd surfing’, the crime of ‘burking’ has also evolved to encompass more than murders that just involve asphyxiating drunken victims who are physically unable to defend themselves against this lethal form of attack.
It is my contention that Burking is an appropriate term to describe crimes that involve unlawful abuses of power that target vulnerable people who are unable to defend themselves against this criminal activity and as a consequence are so physically or emotionally overwhelmed that the victim(s) die of natural causes.
Like the asphyxiation technique originally used by William Burke, and as was the case in the Titlov hearings, these deaths do not appear to be the consequences of a crime and are therefore not treated as a homicide by coroners or by law enforcement agencies.
Burking homicides’ are therefore 19th century examples of ‘the perfect murder’, at least until the precipitating cause of the death was identified and the murders brought to justice
Australia’s Dangerous and Unconstitutional Burking Laws.
In Australia, there are a number of federal laws that collective constitute ‘Murder by federal legislation’, e.g. Section 42C of the Social Security (Administration) Act, an unconstitutional, recklessly dangerous death penalty laws that supposedly ‘legitimizes’ depriving impoverished welfare recipients of their constitutional right to a welfare payment that may be their sole means of meeting their most “basic costs of living.” Whilst it should be self-evident that deliberately depriving millions of people of what may be their sole means to survive is going to result in fatalities, this has not been an issue for the Australian federal politicians who have created these manifestly unconstitutional and recklessly dangerous federal laws.
On February 20th 2017, Senator Brandis made this statement,
”… we do have to have appropriate compliance measures and the idea of data matching, introduced by Hawke and the idea of automated letters being sent to people when there is a discrepancy evident from the data-matching between the ATO data and the Centrelink data; it was introduced by you, is not a bad system.”
Note the following points in that statement:
There had been “mistakes” that have resulted in “terrible human consequences”, i.e. the deaths of welfare recipients.
Despite these fatalities, which at the very least are culpable homicides under state and territory occupational health & safety laws, Senator Brandis stated that the automated processing of debt recovery claims was “not a bad system.”
The rationale used by Senator Brandis to justify this lethal automated system of ALLEGED DEBT recovery was ,”… we do have to have appropriate compliance measures.”
The very clear message that Senator Brandis delivered to the national community was that “appropriate compliance measures” were of higher importance than the lives of vulnerable welfare recipients. These comments were made in the context of prior admissions by the Human Services Minister, Alan Tudge, and the Social Services Minister, Christian Porter, that some 20% of 170,000 claims made “since June”  were “mistakes.”
Further insight into the extent of systemic mistakes by the Department of Human Services, a.k.a. Centrelink, is the following statement from a 2014 federal Administrative Tribunal finding:
<The applicant’s> contention that (s)he acted in reliance of incorrect advice provided by a Centrelink officer over the telephone is not an uncommon compliant or circumstance of socials security recipients. This circumstance is not so unusual, uncommon, exceptional, markedly different from the usual run of cases or out of the ordinary so as to render it a “special circumstance” for the purpose of s 1237AAD(b) of the SSA.
[The case file details are withheld to protect the victim of this blatant miscarriage of justice.]
With Centrelink, Commonwealth error mistakes are so common that, although paragraph 1,237A of the Social Security Act requires that these alleged debts be waived, they were not deemed by the presiding AAT conference registrar to be worthy of being waived despite s 1237A requiring that this occur. What is manifestly evident is that an errors that can prove fatal are not uncommon and with the Commonwealth, through the Department of Social Services, seeking to recover alleged debts, that are either totally spurious or are debts that must be waived due to Commonwealth error, criminal abuses of power that result in fatalities are occurring.
The “terrible human consequences’ of these mistakes raises four critical questions of law:
What is the specific legal status of the deaths, which are almost certainly burking fatalities, i.e. what criminal laws apply to these fatalities?
How many deaths have occurred?
Who is responsible for investigating ‘Robo-Debt’ triggered fatalities?
Why have these investigations either not occurred or if undertaken, have failed to identify the underlying criminal abuses of power that are the reaction trigger for these fatalities?
QUESTION 1; THE LEGAL STATUS OF THE “TERRIBLE HUMAN CONSEQUENCES”, a.k.a. BURKING FATALITIES.
Australia’s 6 states and 2 territories do have homicide laws in which Burking is an implied crime rather than being an explicitly stated crime. The following statutes are from the South Australian Criminal Law Consolidation Act and although they do not mention ‘Burking’ specifically, this crime is covered by these statutes:
13A—Criminal liability in relation to suicide
(7) A person who, by fraud, duress or undue influence, procures the suicide of another or an attempt by another to commit suicide shall (whether or not he was a party to a suicide pact with the other person) be guilty of murder or attempted murder, as the case may require.
Division 1A—Criminal neglect
14—Criminal liability for neglect where death or serious harm results from unlawful act
(1) A person (the defendant) is guilty of the offence of criminal neglect if—
(a) a child or a vulnerable adult (the victim) dies or suffers serious harm as a result of an unlawful act; and
(b) the defendant had, at the time of the act, a duty of care to the victim; and
(c) the defendant was, or ought to have been, aware that there was an appreciable risk that serious harm would be caused to the victim by the unlawful act; and
(d) the defendant failed to take steps that he or she could reasonably be expected to have taken in the circumstances to protect the victim from harm and the defendant’s failure to do so was, in the circumstances, so serious that a criminal penalty is warranted.
In 13 (7) above, killing a person by so emotionally traumatizing them that they commit suicide is a culpable homicide, i.e. murder. In section 14, a person who has a duty of care towards another person and violates that duty with fatal consequences is also guilty of a culpable homicide.
Burking is about deliberately causing harm with reckless indifference or deliberate disregard for the harmful consequences to the victim and that violates the following South Australian Criminal Law Consolidation Act (1935) statutes:
Division 7A—Causing physical or mental harm
21—Interpretation: In this Division—
cause—a person causes harm if the person’s conduct is the sole cause of the harm or substantially contributes to the harm;
If a victim suffers serious harm as a result of multiple acts of harm and those acts occur in the course of the same incident, or together constitute a single course of conduct, a person who commits any of the acts causing harm is taken to cause serious harm even though the harm caused by the act might not, if considered in isolation, amount to serious harm.
harm means physical or mental harm (whether temporary or permanent);
lesser offence, in relation to an offence against this Division, means—
(a) in relation to an aggravated offence—the basic offence or another offence against this Division, Division 7AB or section 32A, for which a lesser maximum penalty is prescribed;
(b) in any other case—another offence against this Division, Division 7AB or section 32A for which a lesser maximum penalty is prescribed;
mental harm means psychological harm and does not include emotional reactions such as distress, grief, fear or anger unless they result in psychological harm; [Causing such distress that people commit suicide qualifies un section 13 (7)]
physical harm includes—
(d) infection with a disease;
recklessly—a person is reckless in causing harm or serious harm to another if the person—
(a) is aware of a substantial risk that his or her conduct could result in harm or serious harm (as the case requires); and
(b) engages in the conduct despite the risk and without adequate justification;
serious harm means—
(a) harm that endangers a person’s life; or
(b) harm that consists of, or results in, serious and protracted impairment of a physical or mental function; or
(c) harm that consists of, or results in, serious disfigurement.
Queensland’s criminal code contains the following statutes, which are also identically worded in the Western Australian criminal code under different statute numbers:
Queensland CRIMINAL CODE s295, 296, 297
(Western Australia sections have identical wording.)
295 Causing death by threats
A person who, by threats or intimidation of any kind, or by deceit, causes another person to do an act or make an omission which results in the death of that other person, is deemed to have killed the other person.
296 Acceleration of death
A person who does any act or makes any omission which hastens the death of another person who, when the act is done or the omission is made, is labouring under some disorder or disease arising from another cause, is deemed to have killed that other person.
297 When injury or death might be prevented by proper precaution
When a person causes a bodily injury to another from which death results, it is immaterial that the injury might have been avoided by proper precaution on the part of the person injured, or that the injured person’s death from that injury might have been prevented by proper care or treatment.
Section 302: The Definition of Murder (Western Australia: Section 279)
(1) Except as hereinafter set forth, a person who unlawfully kills another under any of the following circumstances, that is to say;
(b) if death is caused by means of an act done in the prosecution of an unlawful purpose, which act is of such a nature as to be likely to endanger human life;
(d) if death is caused by administering any stupefying or overpowering thing for either of the purposes mentioned in paragraph (c) is guilty of murder.
(4) Under subsection (1)(c) to (e) it is immaterial that the offender did not intend to cause death or did not know that death was likely to result.
No matter how ‘convenient’ the automated ‘Robo-Debt’ recovery measures may be, the use of recklessly dangerous, unconstitutional measures that skip Due Process of Law for the purpose of recovering ALLEGED DEBTS, that may or may not be real, in law, constitutes “… an act done in the prosecution of an unlawful purpose” and the “terrible human consequences” mentioned by Senator Brandis are, in law, murders under this Queensland statute and similar state and territory laws.
QUESTION 2: HOW MANY DEATHS HAVE OCCURRED?
The day after Senator Brandis made is “terrible human consequences” statement, via I submitted a Statement of Facts & Issues for federal Administrative Appeals tribunal case 2016/5334. This set of documents contained the following statement:
“If I am correct, over a time frame measured in decades, the Australian Federal Parliament has deliberately raped the civil rights of 4 – 5 million vulnerable Australians and as a direct consequence of this systematic rape of rights, the unreported, secretly classified, officially “irrelevant” death toll caused by this ravaging of civil rights may be close to, or even exceed,100,000 in number. Theoretically, it could even be the unthinkable, i.e. close to 1,000,000 dead.”
This Statement of Facts also contained the following “Awesome Foursome” questions that would have had to be answered by March 3rd 2017:
What is the total number of [unconstitutional] Breaching penalties that have been issued to-date?
How many [fraudulent] ‘Account payable’ demands have been made to welfare recipients?
How many people with disabilities have been denied a pension?
How many people never survived the above abuses of power, i.e. how many people has the Federal Parliament murdered?
On February 22nd 2017, i.e. the next day, an Australian Government Service lawyer representing the Secretary of the Department of Social Services wrote a “Without prejudice” letter to the welfare recipient that I was representing that withdrew the Secretary’s claim, re-instated the withheld benefit and agreed to make restitution of all monies withheld. The welfare recipient accepted this offer not knowing that it relieved the Secretary of the obligation to disclose the answers to the “Awesome Foursome” questions.
QUESTION 3: WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR INVESTIGATING THESE BURKING FATALITIES?
The following federal, state or territory agencies or entities are responsible for investigating deaths precipitated by unconstitutional, unlawful abuses of power by the Australian Federal Parliament or agencies acting on behalf of the parliament under unconstitutional statute laws:
Police – Federal, State and Territory;
The Australian Human Rights Commission;
State and Territory Human Rights Commissions;
Federal, State and Territory Office of the Ombudsman;
Federal, State and Territory Independent Commissioner against Corruption.
QUESTION #4: WHY HAVE THESE DEATHS NOT BEEN IDENTIFIED AS BURKING MURDERS?
The answer to this question is complex and may have as much to do with Milgram’s Syndrome, i.e. a sub-conscious willingness to recklessly endanger the lives of others, and possibly the evidence of unlawful ‘Data Trimming’ by altering or not collecting data on the numbers of “terrible human consequences.” The non-collection of mission-critical data concerning the foreseeably adverse consequences of unconstitutional, and therefore unlawful, actions by Department of Human Services officials may have been for the express purpose of concealing the real-world impact of government policies and practices. That this could occur for decades despite senate oversight committee questions and questions raised by members of the public, e.g. myself, is beyond inexcusable.
I am not authorized to conduct an investigation; however as a member of the community I do have the right to seek transparency regarding the human impact of unconstitutional laws, policies and practices and the failure of government officials, including Governor-generals, politicians, public servants, police officers, coroners, judges AAT conference registrars and even High Court registrars, to address the issue of publicly acknowledged but unnumbered fatalities is a question that every person in the nation needs to consider.
Ronald Medlicott – A Christian lay-advocate for justice in Australia.