The wreckage of the Westlander lying where it came off the tracks near Roma on Saturday, November 7, 1987.
The wreckage of the Westlander lying where it came off the tracks near Roma on Saturday, November 7, 1987.

COLD CASE: $50K reward still stands for Westlander tragedy

THIRTY years after a $50,000 reward was offered for help in solving a horrific cold case in the southwest, the money remains unclaimed.

Queensland Cabinet minutes from 1989, released to the public this month, detail the original submission from Queensland Police Service to the state government, along with the approval of a $50,000 reward for any information on the person or persons responsible for the fatal Westlander train derailment at Bindango, near Roma, two years prior.

"The acting commissioner of police submits that a reward of $50,000 be offered for information which may lead to the apprehension of the person or persons responsible for the derailment of the Westlander train at Bindango Railway Siding on November 6, 1987, which resulted in the death of David Timothy Frank Smit," the police submission read.

"The acting commissioner further recommends that the printed reward notice include advice to the effect that a free pardon will be extended to any accomplice."

At 5.30am on November 6, 1987, the Westlander - bound for Quilpie with 34 people on board - jumped the tracks about 25km west of Roma and caught fire.

Ten-month-old David Timothy Frank Smit burnt to death inside and nine other passengers were injured.

Investigators concluded the tragedy was caused by a person switching the point equipment at Bindango, directing the train away from its route to the railway siding while at speed.

They were unable to find the person responsible.

The documents detailed the commissioner's willingness to offer a pardon to accomplices in exchange for information.

"The acting commissioner further recommends that the printed reward notice include advice to the effect that a free pardon will be extended to any accomplice, not being the person who actually changed the point equipment, who first gives such information," the police submission read.

Cabinet passed the terms in full on September 11, 1989 and the reward still stands.

Anyone with information that could assist police can contact the Roma Criminal Investigation Branch or Crime Stoppers.


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