Bereaved upset over long wait for details
DREAMWORLD ‘DOCUMENT DUMP’
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.