RECORD OF INVESTIGATION INTO DEATH (Without Inquest)
Coroners Act 1995
Coroners Rules 2006
I, Robert Pearce Coroner, having investigated the death of the deceased
WITHOUT HOLDING AN INQUEST
These findings have been partially de-identified in relation to the name of the deceased by direction of the Coroner pursuant to S.57(1)(c) of Coroners Act 1995
(a) The deceased was born in August 1924, in South Launceston in Tasmania;
(b) The deceased died on 2 September 2011 at the Launceston General Hospital;
(c) The deceased’s death occurred as a result of injuries caused by a self inflicted gun shot wound to the head;
(d) No other person contributed to the cause of the deceased’s death.
1.The deceased was aged 87. Prior to his death he lived alone in South Launceston. His wife died about 6 years ago after a long illness during which time the deceased cared for her. When they were married his wife had 2 young daughters, and thereafter the deceased assumed the role as their father. There were 2 further children of the marriage. The deceased was close to and loved by all his children and grandchildren. Prior to his retirement when he was 65 he was employed by the council. He was, both in his employment and otherwise, industrious and well regarded.
2. At about 9.30 a.m. on 2 September 2011 the deceased’s daughter went to his house for a routine daily visit. She found the deceased on his bed with a gunshot wound to his head. A rifle was lying diagonally across his body with the butt of the weapon near the deceased right hand. Later examination of the firearm disclosed that it was a .22 calibre Lithgow bolt action single shot rifle with one spent round and no other ammunition.
3. On a table in the adjoining living room was found a note reading “I had a bad fall last night, gone to bed”. There was no other note.
4. The deceased was attended by officers of the Tasmanian Ambulance Service and taken to the Launceston General Hospital, but he died from his injuries the following day.
5. There is no evidence of or circumstance suggesting the involvement of any other person in the deceased’s death.
6. The post mortem examination disclosed a gunshot wound in the central forehead. The bullet from the firearm was found lodged in the deceased’s head. The examination disclosed circumstances confirming discharge of the weapon at contact range. The injury caused by the bullet was the cause of the deceased’s death. Toxicology testing revealed the presence of only therapeutic medication.
7. The terms of the note and other comments made to members of his family suggest that the deceased may have had a concern that because of failing health he may become a burden to his family, even though all of the evidence suggests that his family was, and would have continued to be, loving, caring and supportive.
8. The firearm was not registered and the deceased held no firearms licence. There is nothing to suggest that his actions could have been foreseen.
Comments & Recommendations:
9. I have decided not to hold in inquest into the deceased’s death. The investigation has sufficiently disclosed the identity of the deceased person, the time, place, the relevant circumstances concerning his death and the particulars needed to register his death under the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act. I am satisfied that no other person contributed to the deceased’s death. I do not consider that an inquest is likely to elicit any further information concerning the issues that I am required to determine.
I convey my sincere condolences to the deceased’s family.
Dated: 30 day of April, 2013.