Bereaved up­set over long wait for de­tails


The Weekend Australian - - THE NATION - CHAR­LIE PEEL

A thou­sand doc­u­ments rel­e­vant to the coro­nial in­quest into the 2016 deaths of four peo­ple at Dream­world were with­held from the coro­ner and le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the vic­tims’ fam­ily mem­bers un­til this week, “plainly up­set­ting’’ them.

The de­lay by Dream­world owner Ar­dent Leisure in re­leas­ing the doc­u­ments — some of which dis­cuss con­fu­sion around emer­gency pro­ce­dures — could mean that some wit­nesses who have al­ready tes­ti­fied may have to be re­called.

De­spite the doc­u­ments be­ing pro­vided to the coro­ner’s of­fice on Mon­day, they were not de­liv­ered to the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the fam­ily mem­bers un­til Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

The in­quest on the Gold Coast, which re­sumed this week af­ter start­ing in June, is ex­am­in­ing the cir­cum­stances around the Oc­to­ber 25, 2016, deaths of Cindy Low, Kate Good­child, her brother Luke Dorsett and his part­ner Roozi Araghi.

They were killed when a pump on the pop­u­lar Thun­der River Rapids ride failed, caus­ing wa­ter lev­els to drop and leav­ing a raft sit­ting on rails.

The ride’s con­veyor, which had not shut down, caused the vic­tims’ raft to flip af­ter it col­lided with the empty one.

Bar­ris­ter Matthew Hickey, act­ing for Low’s fam­ily, said the newly re­leased doc­u­ments were clearly rel­e­vant to the in­quiry and that meta­data showed they had first been ac­cessed more than a year ago.

Mr Hickey said the “doc­u­ment dump” came af­ter a re­quest for the doc­u­ments was first made im­me­di­ately af­ter the tragedy.

“No­body who acts for any of the fam­i­lies, I would sug­gest, wishes to see this pro­ceed­ing pro­longed,” Mr Hickey said.

“It’s plainly up­set­ting. The fam­i­lies of those whose lives have been robbed are en­ti­tled to know what hap­pened. It must have been ob­vi­ous to the bat­tal­ion of lawyers who sit be­hind me who rep­re­sent Ar­dent that those doc­u­ments were rel­e­vant.”

Mr Hickey said the doc­u­ments in­cluded pre­vi­ously unseen cor­re­spon­dence dis­cussing con­fu­sion about emer­gency re­sponse pro­ce­dures.

There was also cor­re­spon­dence about a pro­posed “sin­gle­but­ton shut­down” for Thun­der River Rapids.

“We didn’t know that cor­re­spon­dence ex­isted un­til yes­ter­day,” Mr Hickey said.

Dream­world bar­ris­ter Bruce Hodgkin­son said the mat­ters dis­closed in the doc­u­ments had al­ready been aired in pre­vi­ous doc­u­ments and had been raised with the wit­nesses.

“Many of the mat­ters … re­ferred to in the doc­u­ments are in the record,” he said.

“Yes, there are ad­di­tional doc­u­ments go­ing to these is­sues … but the is­sue it­self is not new.”

Speaking out­side court, coun­sel as­sist­ing the coro­ner Ken Flem­ing said he hoped all of the rel­e­vant doc­u­ments had now been turned over.

“We would have hoped that we would have had all of the doc­u­ments be­fore the in­quiry started,” he said.

“We all know the old say­ing jus­tice de­layed is jus­tice de­nied is a true say­ing and peo­ple’s mem­o­ries start to de­cline af­ter a while and we need to get this fin­ished as soon as we can.”

Coro­ner James McDougall said he was re­luc­tant to de­lay the in­quest but did not rule on whether wit­nesses would be re­called.

The in­quest con­tin­ues next week.

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