The Courier-Mail




A TOP QC who charges up to $10,000 a day has ad­mit­ted fall­ing asleep – and snor­ing – dur­ing an in­quest yesterday.

But David Tait, QC, said “it hap­pened dur­ing a wit­ness I had no ques­tions for” – and that a re­cent knee op­er­a­tion had left him hav­ing trou­ble sleep­ing at night.

Snor­ing noises were heard in the court­room af­ter Mr Tait (pic­tured) drifted off about 11.30am on the sec­ond day of the in­quest into the death of race car driver Sean Ed­wards. Mr Tait – who closed his eyes while sit­ting at the bar ta­ble – is rep­re­sent­ing Mr Ed­wards’ Lon­don-based fam­ily, who have been lis­ten­ing in via Skype.

Sean Ed­wards, the son of for­mer For­mula 1 driver Guy Ed­wards, was killed when the Porsche in which he was a pas­sen­ger hit a wall at Wil­low­bank race­track while trav­el­ling at 220km/h. The car was be­ing driven by 22-year-old am­a­teur driver Will Holzheimer.

Other mem­bers of the court gallery con­firmed to The Courier-Mail they had heard and seen Mr Tait snor­ing.

Sean’s mother, Lon­don prop­erty devel­oper Daphne McKinley, was not in court to hear the ev­i­dence but was lis­ten­ing to the hear­ing, be­fore deputy coro­ner John Lock, via Skype.

She did not re­spond to ques­tions about Mr Tait yesterday but re­leased a state­ment be­fore court re­sumed to say the wait for the case to go to court had caused “stress and anx­i­ety to her fam­ily”.

Mr Tait has been a bar­ris­ter for 38 years and a QC for 12.

Speak­ing out­side court Mr Tait told The Courier-Mail his episode of sleepi­ness had oc­curred dur­ing ev­i­dence from a wit­ness he did not need to cross ex­am­ine. He said he had trou­ble sleep­ing af­ter re­cent knee surgery but em­pha­sised he did not blame his doc­tors for his in­som­nia.

Chris McMa­hon, a so­lic­i­tor who was in­struct­ing Mr Tait, told The Courier-Mail Mr Tait’s surgery “left him with some last­ing is­sues which af­fects his abil­ity to sleep”.

“Mr Tait re­tains my full con­fi­dence in his abil­ity and con­duct of the in­quest,” Mr McMa­hon said.

A spokesman for the Depart­ment of Jus­tice and At­tor­ney-Gen­eral said the Coro­ner’s Of­fice would not com­ment on the snor­ing.

The in­quiry also heard Mr Holzheimer to­day will at­tempt to avoid giv­ing ev­i­dence. He is listed to ap­pear to­mor­row.

Ge­of­frey Diehm, QC, act­ing for the Holzheimer fam­ily, said he would ap­ply to “ex­cuse” Mr Holzheimer, who had told the Coro­ner’s Of­fice he did not re­mem­ber the in­ci­dent.

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