An Adelaide man granted freedom after spending 40 years in jail, for a murder he claims he didn’t commit, says he feels “relieved” and overwhelmed after being granted parole.

Derek Bromley has been serving a life sentence for the 1984 murder of Adelaide man Stephen Docoza, but has always claimed he was not present when Mr Docoza died in the River Torrens.

Through a statement from his lawyer Karen Stanley, the 62-year-old said he was looking forward to “going home to my family”.

“I’m very relieved to hear that after 40 long years, I have finally been granted Parole,” Bromley said.

“The transition from being in a jail cell to having freedom in the community is quite overwhelming.

“Most importantly, I’m really relieved and looking forward to finally going home to my family.”

Bromley’s co-accused John Karpany was released on parole 20 years ago, in 2004, after admitting involvement in the murder.

The 62-year-old Narungga Ngarrindjeri man is reportedly the longest-serving Indigenous prisoner in the country.

Bromley also thanked his supporters and those who will help him “navigate the huge changes in the world in the last 40 years.

“I want to thank everyone who has worked hard to advocate for me. I am more grateful than I can express,” Bromley said.

Lawyer Karen Stanley said her client was still processing his parole win after suffering several legal setbacks over the years.

“He finally gets to walk out of prison, which is long long overdue, I am so happy for him,” Ms Stanley said.

“I think he’s a little bit numb.”

Derek Bromley’s lawyer Karen Stanley says she is happy her client will soon walk free.(Supplied)

In December 2023, the High Court ruled against re-opening Bromley’s case in a three-to-two judge decision.

Bromley has also had previous parole applications rejected.

“He’s been hoping for this for two decades now and he has been disappointed several times in the past,” Ms Stanley said.

“I think ultimately the reality of it will take a little while to hit home.

“It’s unfathomable to me that he has remained in prison for 19 years beyond his non-parole date.”

An ABC Law Report story in March stated that a 2009 parole board report highlighted Bromley’s list of serious convictions, and noted that since his first prison sentence back in 1974 he had spent only 45 days in the community.

A 2017 parole report also referred to assault convictions against prison guards back in 1991.

But Ms Stanley said Bromley had led an “exemplary life” in prison for the past 20 years, working as a volunteer with the CFS, attending the Cudlee Creek and Kangaroo Island blazes.

“The parole board could see that he’s actually contributing more to the community than lots of people in the community,” Ms Stanley said.

“He has earned his freedom.”

Parole Board chair Frances Nelson said the application was granted in part due to Bromley’s “exemplary” behaviour in prison.(ABC News: Lincoln Rothall)

Ms Stanley said Bromley was already spending time in the community and has limited use of a mobile phone.

“In terms of changes in the world, one change he commented to me about was the scam calls on his mobile phone — he just doesn’t know what to do about them.

“[He’s facing] huge changes and he will have to grapple with things like online banking … that is a whole new world.”

Commissioner for Victims’ Rights Sarah Quick said learning of Bromley’s release would be very difficult for Stephen Docoza’s family.

“The death of Stephen Docoza had an unimaginable impact on his family that can never be truly healed or explained,” Ms Quick said.

Victims’ Rights Commissioner Sarah Quick says Bromley’s release will be difficult for Stephen Docoza’s family.(ABC News: Che Chorley)

“Learning that the offender is to be released on parole is extremely difficult for most victims and they often find themselves revisiting painful thoughts, feelings and memories.

“It is a particularly difficult for victims when a person found guilty of murder, continues to proclaim their innocence.

“For families, the lack of accountability and remorse is both insulting and insensitive.”

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