Letty Scott, 1953-2009
Letty Marie Scott (nee Gibson) Nupanunga, of the Anmatyerre nation in Central Australia, passed away, aged 56. Letty was a lifelong campaigner for justice — especially on the issue of black deaths in custody, which touched her life indelibly. Letty was perhaps best known because of her husband, Douglas Bruce Scott, who died under suspicious circumstances, found hanged in a prison cell in Darwin’s Berrimah jail on July 5, 1985, aged 26.
Even though Douglas was held in custody for “indecent language” for four times the legal remand period, the subsequent inquiry found that he had been in “lawful custody”.
Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary — including eyewitness accounts from fellow inmates — both the police inquest and the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody found Douglas Scott’s death to be suicide.
After 20 years, Letty eventually succeeded in having Douglas’s body exhumed for expert forensic study — which found lesions on his body to be consistent with torture. Even then, the subsequent hearing found in favour of the three prison officers accused of Douglas’s murder.
Activist painter’s fight revealed deadly secret
28th February 2009
Letty Marie Scott, who was to achieve fame as a persistent campaigner for justice for her deaths-in-custody husband, was at the crossroads of Australia’s great cultural conflict.
Seven charged for Douglas Scott murder and cover-up
1st December 2004
In an unprecedented move, Letty Scott has brought private criminal charges against three NT prison officers — Barry Medley, Michael Lawson and Harold Robertson — for the assault and murder of her husband Douglas Scott on July 5, 1985. A fourth guard believed to be involved in the assault has since died.