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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