Doubts over res­cue bid

Ex­pert tells in­quest of ‘highly un­likely’ ac­tions to save mate

Mercury (Hobart) - - NEWSFRONT - LORETTA LOHBERGER Court Re­porter

THE de­scrip­tion a man gave of try­ing to res­cue his friend from wa­ters off Flinders Is­land dur­ing a fish­ing trip in 2015 is “highly un­likely” to have hap­pened, a coro­nial in­quest has heard.

The in­quest into the death of Robert Charles Mansell, 42, re­sumed in Ho­bart yes­ter­day.

Mr Mansell dis­ap­peared off Flinders Is­land on Au­gust 8, 2015, while fish­ing with a friend, Joshua Kennedy.

The in­quest is ex­am­in­ing whether Mr Kennedy had any role in Mr Mansell’s death.

Paul Luckin, a med­i­cal doc­tor with ex­pe­ri­ence in search and res­cue and life­sav­ing, and a for­mer Royal Life Sav­ing Tas­ma­nia pres­i­dent, ap­peared as an ex­pert wit­ness.

Dr Luckin said it was his opin­ion that Mr Mansell died on Au­gust 8, 2015, within five min­utes of en­ter­ing the wa­ter.

He said Mr Kennedy gave a de­scrip­tion in Septem­ber 2015 of how he at­tempted to res­cue Mr Mansell.

“Mr Kennedy says that he was in the wa­ter for 15-20 min­utes and that he had Mr Mansell for five min­utes af­ter he’d reached him, try­ing to bring him back to [Salmon] Rock,” Dr Luckin said.

He said within 10 min­utes in the cold wa­ter Mr Kennedy “would have been find­ing it very dif­fi­cult” but he said even if Mr Kennedy had the time frame wrong and the res­cue at­tempt un­folded more quickly, it was still un­likely.

“He de­scribes Mr Mansell be­ing on the sur­face call­ing for help … He says ‘I spun him around and put my arm around him’,” Dr Luckin said.

“His de­scrip­tion of the tech­nique of res­cue is highly im­prob­a­ble … be­cause it’s not some­thing an un­trained per­son is able to do.”

Dr Luckin also said: “I think it’s very un­likely that Mr Mansell was still on the sur­face long enough for Mr Kennedy to reach him and long enough to res­cue him.”

He said if Mr Kennedy was af­fected by moder­ate hy­pother­mia, it would hin­der his abil­ity to give an ac­cu­rate ac­count of what hap­pened.

The in­quest pre­vi­ously heard Mr Kennedy and Mr Mansell were ri­vals for the at­ten­tions of then Flinders Is­land woman Stephanie Rig­gall.

Flinders Is­land woman Mar­ley Clark yes­ter­day told the in­quest she over­heard a com­ment Ms Rig­gall made to Mr Kennedy at a pub in Whitemark some time af­ter Mr Mansell’s dis­ap­pear­ance.

“She said, ‘are you go­ing to push me off the rocks at the river next’,” Ms Clark said.

She agreed she was drunk, that the pub was crowded and she was stand­ing about two me­tres from Ms Rig­gall at the time.

Mr Kennedy’s lawyer, Grant Tucker, sug­gested Ms Clark was mis­taken about the com­ment.

“I don’t think that I’m mis­taken,” Ms Clark said.

The in­quest, be­fore Coro­ner Olivia McTag­gart, will re­sume on Fe­bru­ary 12 for at least two days, when it is ex­pected Mr Kennedy and Ms Rig­gall will be among the wit­nesses.

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