‘Wife’ silent over death
Woman declines to answer questions over fatal crash
A CORONIAL inquest into the death of an American living at Wagait Beach came to a dramatic halt yesterday morning when the woman who ran him over with her four-wheeldrive vehicle declined to answer questions because doing so might incriminate her in his “unlawful killing”.
Jonathan William Hempel, 62, was run over while opening a gate into the Wagait Beach property he was living at with Cathy Lin on the night of June 4 this year, shortly before he was to due to return to the US.
The precise relationship between Mr Hempel and Ms Lin – the owner of Cathy’s Place at Cullen Bay – remains unclear.
The inquest heard Ms Lin, also known as Yuk Chu Lin, told a neighbour her Toyota LandCruiser had “rolled over” Mr Hempel.
In his opening address, counsel assisting the coroner Kelvin Currie said Ms Lin told a police officer at the scene the 4WD was in drive rather than reverse when she ran Mr Hempel over.
“She then said that he would have been under the vehicle and so to make it easier to remove him she drove over him so he was at the rear of the vehicle,” Mr Currie said.
Mr Currie said there was some evidence Ms Lin wanted Mr Hempel to put money into her cafe – Cathy’s Place at Cullen Bay.
Ms Lin has exercised her right to silence with police and, through her lawyers, reneged on an agreement to provide a written statement of her version of events on the night.
Mr Currie briefly questioned Ms Lin over her financial affairs yesterday, before her barrister, Peter Bellach, made a series of objections.
Coroner Greg Cavanagh refused the first – in which Mr Bellach said he had not been given copies of police records – saying: “We are able to, and often do, take witnesses by surprise.”
But Mr Cavanagh allowed the second objection, when Mr Bellach said Ms Lin’s continued co-operation with the inquest might incriminate herself.
When pushed to describe what kind of offence Ms Lin might incriminate herself in, Mr Bellach said he was referring to an “unlawful killing” rather than a traffic offence.
Mr Cavanagh said he could not force Ms Lin to answer, and would only consider issuing a certificate against self-incrimination after police had finished investigations. He adjourned the inquest indefinitely for investigations to continue. see her
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