Mr Wotton told the federal court today that during the riot on Palm Island in 2004 he liaised between the community and the police and arranged for transport to the airport so the police could leave safely.
He told the court that when detective sergeant Darren Robinson told him they were afraid of being ambushed on the way to the airport he said in response ‘look I’ll come with you and make sure you get there safely.’
Several videos taken by the community were played to the court showing Mr Wotton speaking to the police at different times throughout the day.
Mr Wotton was convicted in 2008 of inciting the riot and served 20 months jail.
Mr Wotton also said that later on the day of the riot he found out that the police ‘tricked him’, and were only speaking to him to delay while they called in more police reinforcements and declared a state of emergency.
Mr Wotton told the court that when the police then asked him to tell everyone to go home he said in response ‘look, I don’t control these peopl. They’re all here on their own, of their own interest.’
“They said ‘look you’re leading this,’” Lex recounted. “I said no, I’m not”.
A series of video recordings were also played to the court showing emotional community meetings on the island in the days leading up to the riot, which was sparked by the death in custody the week prior of Palm Islander man Mulrunji Doomadgee.
A recording of the day of the riot showed the charged moments directly before the violence started, where then mayor Erykah Kyle read out the autopsy report, describing Mulrunji’s death in custody as an ‘accident’.
Mulrunji’s close friend David Bulsey is seen immediately afterwards telling the crowd “We don’t want trouble on this island we want bloody justice. And if he gets away with this its going to happen again and again and again…. it’s going to happen to your children. It’s cold blooded murder” .
Mr Wotton is then seen addressing the crowd, saying he will not accept the death as an accident, and that “things are going to burn.”
Another recording of a community meeting three days before the riot was also played, showing Roy Bramwell addressing the crowd.
Mr Bramwell was at the police station at the time of the death in custody and described to the onlookers what he saw of the altercation between Mulrunji and his arresting officer Christoper Hurley. “I could see he was on the ground bashing him saying ‘you want more Mr Doomadgee you want more?,” he told the crowd.
Mr Wotton also gave evidence detailing his role in co-operating with authorities in the week leading up to the riot.
This included telling the community to stop throwing rocks at the police station at the request of the police and pushing for the QLD police commissioner or police minister to visit the island and address the communities concerns. Lex Wotton will continue to give evidence tomorrow.