The relatives of three Aboriginal children who disappeared in Bowraville almost 30 years ago say they are "devastated but not discouraged" by the failure of the New South Wales government to have a man tried for the three murders.
The 52-year-old man, who can not be named for legal reasons, was previously acquitted in separate trials for the murder of two of the children: Evelyn Greenup, 4, and Clinton Speedy-Duroux, 16, in the late 1990s and early 1991..
The New South Wales government had argued that there was strong new evidence – related to the disappearance of a third child, Colleen Walker, almost at the same time – to justify the annulment of the acquittals and the order for a retrial.
The Bowraville murders: why families still await justice
Under the double jeopardy laws of New South Wales revised in 2006, a person can be tried for the same offense for which he or she has already been acquitted, provided there is new and convincing evidence.
On Thursday, the NSW Criminal Appeals Court dismissed the attorney general's request.
Off the court, Evelyn's aunt, Michelle Jarrett, said they were devastated but not depressed and that "this is just another day."
"We have been hit in the gills by the judicial system and the law, but we will continue to fight," he said.
Chief Judge Tom Bathurst and Judges Clifton Hoeben and Lucy McCallum found that all evidence related to the murder of Colleen Walker was available to be presented at the 2006 trial involving Evelyn Greenup.
There was no other evidence that was "fresh and convincing" in relation to his murder, they said.
Then, the court considered whether it could issue an order for a new trial related to its 1994 acquittal for the Clinton Speedy murder.
But the judges said that the attorney general had taken his case completely on the basis that it would only succeed if the man faced a single trial for the three of them.
The sixth and last day of the hearing, this changed to a presentation that an order for a new trial could be made.
But this was rejected by the judges who said it was not open for him to change the case he had tried to make.