RECORD OF INVESTIGATION INTO DEATH (WITHOUT PUBLIC INQUEST)
Coroners Act 1995
Coroners Rules 2006
I, Glenn Hay, Coroner, have investigated the death of
KUOL PIYOM KUOL
WITHOUT HOLDING AN INQUEST
I have decided not to hold a public inquest hearing into this death because my investigations have sufficiently disclosed the identity of Mr Kuol, the time, place, cause of death, relevant circumstances concerning how the death occurred and the particulars needed to register the death under the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1999. I do not consider that the holding of a public inquest hearing would elicit any information further to that disclosed by the investigations conducted by me.
(a) Kuol Piyom Kuol (‘Mr Kuol’) died on 21 March 2011 at Baintree Avenue, Dynnyrne in the State of Tasmania.
(b) Mr Kuol was born at Pannyok in Sudan on 28 February 1987. He was aged 24 years at the time of his death and a student at the University of Tasmania. He did not have any dependants.
(c) Mr Kuol died of asphyxia due to hanging. I find this action was a direct consequence of an express intention on his part to take his own life.
Mr Kuol was born Kuol Piyom Kuol at Pannyok in Sudan on 28 February 1987. His mother’s name was Angar Mawien and his father Piyom Yol Kuol. Mr Kuol had three siblings, a brother and two sisters.
In 1998 Mr Kuol’s mother died in Kenya from a medical condition and, aged 11 years, he took on the responsibility for the well being of his three siblings.
In 2004 Mr Kuol arrived in Australia on a refugee visa while his father remained living in Sudan. He lived with his aunt at Belfield, N.S.W. and became an Australian citizen on 24 July 2007. He was educated at De La Salle Catholic Boys College in Ashfield, Sydney, graduating in 2007. His ambition to join the New South Wales Police Force did not eventuate so he travelled to Canberra and stayed with family members for several months. He returned to New South Wales before travelling to Tasmania in early 2008 with the intention to attend university and then apply to join Tasmania Police.
When Mr Kuol arrived in Tasmania he lived with his cousin in Lutana before moving into a unit in Baintree Avenue, Dynnyrne about August 2008. He commenced a Bachelor of Social Science degree at the University of Tasmania in early 2008 where he presented as a dedicated student. Mr Kuol gained casual employment at a warehouse at Moonah in late February 2011 and was considered a reliable employee. He also had a number of acquaintances and friends in Hobart, including a large number from the wider African community.
Circumstances Surrounding the Death:-
In the early part of 2010 Mr Kuol met Samantha Jane Muirhead (‘Miss Muirhead’) through his cousin who was studying with her at the University of Tasmania. They started dating and very soon after were inseparable. They shared a committed relationship and were described as a caring and loving couple. Mr Kuol met Miss Muirhead’s parents and had been to their Crabtree home.
Mr Kuol lived alone at Baintree Avenue, Dynnyrne and Miss Muirhead would stay with him 3 to 4 nights each week. When she did not stay with him she stayed with her parents at Crabtree, with whom she shared a close relationship.
While Mr Kuol and Miss Muirhead shared a close relationship, in the two weeks prior to his death he commenced a relationship with another woman. This second relationship became intimate and it would appear that neither woman was aware of the other.
On Friday 18 March 2011 Miss Muirhead travelled to her parents’ house at Crabtree for the weekend though she remained in contact with Mr Kuol by mobile telephone and text messaging.
Mr Kuol rang Miss Muirhead at 11.24pm on Saturday 19 March 2011 and this call lasted about 16 minutes. There was no further attempt by either person to contact one another by mobile telephone or text during the remainder of the weekend. It has not been established the reason for or what was discussed during the course of the telephone call but from the tone of it, Miss Muirhead’s mother believed that the relationship between her daughter and Mr Kuol was possibly over, or at least changing.
Miss Muirhead left her parents’ home Monday morning 21 March 2012 and attended a Dental Clinic in Newtown. She was there when she was contacted in relation to the whereabouts of Mr Kuol as he had not arrived at work. Miss Muirhead made enquires but was unable to locate him and, on finishing at the dental clinic, appears to have travelled to his address in Dynnyrne about 12 noon.
As a result of the concerns of Miss Muirhead’s family and friends when she failed to keep an appointment mid afternoon, her mother went to the Baintree Avenue address at about 9pm that evening. When she was unable to locate Miss Muirhead, though her car was present, and she received no response from inside the unit she called police.
During enquires at the address police located Mr Kuol deceased in an adjacent shed. They then forced entry to the unit and located Miss Muirhead deceased on the living room floor.
Unfortunately there were no witnesses to what occurred at the Baintree Avenue address on the afternoon of Monday 21 March 2011 and my determinations are made from the available scene evidence and subsequent police investigation.
It is likely that when Miss Muirhead arrived at the Baintree Street unit Mr Kuol was present. It is likely an argument and physical altercation between them occurred in the main living area of the unit, however no determination can be made as to why this occurred.
During the course of this altercation Mr Kuol has struck Miss Muirhead in the face a number of times with what is believed to have been an electric iron. He also attempted to strangle her by hand and by wrapping the electrical cord of the iron around her neck and pulling tightly. He has at some stage obtained a knife and stabbed Miss Muirhead repeatedly in the head, neck, chest abdomen and arms. Several stabbings pierced internal organs and blood vessels which led to severe internal bleeding and her death on the floor of the living area. It is clear Miss Muirhead attempted to defend herself from Mr Kuol and attempted top flee from him, but was unable to do so.
Mr Kuol has then covered the upper portion of Miss Muirhead’s body with clothing before cleaning the knife in the shower and leaving it in front of the shower bay. He has then locked the unit from the inside and barricaded the main entrance door with items of furniture before going to a small shed adjacent to the unit. He has secured the door from inside and to restrict the view in from outside, placed a doona cover over an area of the external wall, which was not covered.
Mr Kuol has then attached a length of rope to a roof support beam, tied one end of the rope into a noose and placed it around his neck before hanging himself. Prior to hanging himself he has stabbed himself on the inside of the left wrist and also on the inside of the left elbow. The knife used for this was then placed on an adjacent wooden support beam.
Findings, Comments and Recommendations:
I am satisfied that a full and thorough investigation has been carried out in relation to the death of Mr Kuol and have concluded there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death.
I find Mr Kuol died of asphyxia due to hanging himself and that his actions were in direct consequence of an express intention on his part to take his own life. In making this finding I am cognisant of the fact that he did not leave any note or writing that could be construed as a suicide note.
I find he hanged himself after inflicting the fatal injuries to Miss Muirhead. I have further concluded that Mr Kuol acted alone in his attack on her and no other person was involved in his death.
While their relationship was deteriorating over the days leading up to the deaths, there is no available evidence to suggest that Mr Kuol had in the past committed acts of domestic violence. Nor is there any evidence to suggest Miss Muirhead was concerned about her safety when in his company. Both deaths appear to be the result of the deteriorating relationship however there is insufficient available evidence for me to find the definitive reason as to why Mr Kuol acted in the brutal and vicious manner in which he did.
In closing I wish to convey my sincere condolences to Mr Kuol’s family.
DATED 9th May 2012 at Hobart in the State of Tasmania