Record of Investigation into Death
Coroners Act 1995
Coroners Regulations 1996
I, Stephen Raymond Carey, Coroner, having investigated the death of
Douglas John MONEY
WITHOUT HOLDING AN INQUEST
Find That :
a) The identity of the deceased is Douglas John Money ("Mr Money") who died at a date unable to be determined but estimated between 22 December 2010 and 24 December 2010.
b) Mr Money died on the shoreline at Kelly Basin at Macquarie Harbour at Strahan.
c) Mr Money was a single man, retired and aged 71 at the time of his death, having been born on 30 January 1939 in New South Wales.
d) The cause of Mr Money¡¦s death cannot be determined but the death was as a result of natural causes or misadventure as there are no suspicious circumstances suggestive of the involvement of any other person in the death of Mr Money.
Circumstances Surrounding the Death :
On Tuesday 28 December 2010 Yvonne Clare Croswell and her husband Anthony John Croswell ("the Croswells") motored into Kelly Basin in Macquarie Harbour in their vessel. They observed the yacht named "Loru" anchored in the basin approximately 100 metres from the Reindeer Lodge camp site. As they passed within 50 metres of the yacht they did not note any person on that yacht. On the following day (Wednesday 29 December 2010) whilst passing the yacht in their dinghy the Croswells noted that the cabin door on the "Loru" was open and clothing was hanging on the deck. They could not raise any occupant on the yacht and determining that this was unusual, they then boarded the "Loru". They found no-one aboard. The Croswells then conducted a search of the nearby shore and located a dinghy marked with "Loru" written on the stern. The Croswells then returned to the yacht "Loru" and used the radio aboard the vessel to attempt to communicate their concerns to the authorities. Due to radio communication difficulties they were only able to transmit a portion of the details to the nearby vessel "Lady Jane Franklin". Staff on board that vessel then informed Tasmania Police of the concerns that had been transmitted.
The following day the Croswells again travelled to the shoreline in the vicinity of the "Loru" dinghy and they searched the vicinity around the dinghy. They found a boot which appeared to have been chewed and then located what they considered to be a fresh human skull. The Croswells moved the dinghy, placing it over the top of the skull to protect it from further damage from scavenging animals, namely Tasmanian Devils. The Croswells then made further radio transmissions regarding what they had found and an aircraft flying nearby received the transmissions and relayed the message to police.
On Thursday 30 December 2010 the police radio dispatch service received a call in relation to the discovery of human remains by the Croswells. Police from Queenstown attended the scene and continued the search for the occupier of the yacht "Loru" both on the foreshore and on the yacht itself. During that day other police officers attended from the Criminal Investigation Branch and also from Forensic Services. During the course of their search and investigation the following physical exhibits were located:
Several animal scats in an approximate 20 metre radius of the dinghy
Femur and pelvis bones
The yacht "Loru" was also examined in detail. The apparent human remains were transported to Hobart for examination by the Forensic Pathologist.
On the following day Tasmania Police towed the yacht "Loru" to a place of safety in Strahan where it was anchored at Mill Bay and secured. During the course of packaging the other exhibits it was discovered that what appeared to be a human bone was present in a trouser leg. This bone was packaged and sent to the Forensic Science Service Tasmania for potential DNA comparative testing.
It was determined during the course of the police investigation upon contact with Medicare Australia that Mr Money had several skin cancers removed by Dr Ian Katz. Further enquiries revealed that samples obtained during those procedures had been medically stored. Arrangements were made for these samples to be transported to the Forensic Science Service Tasmania laboratories in Hobart. Full male DNA profiles were obtained from a needle biopsy from the femur and pelvis bones that had been recovered at the site. Furthermore, a bone marrow sample was obtained from the femur bone. A number of matching profiles were obtained from two toothbrushes which were collected from the bathroom aboard the yacht "Loru". One of the toothbrushes provided a full male DNA profile. This sample matched the sample from the bone samples. I am advised that the chances of second person unrelated to Mr Money also matching this profile is in the order of 1 in 100 million.
The matching of the DNA profile from the tissue samples received from Dr Ian Katz also showed a profile which matched the DNA profile from the bone samples. Based upon these tests I conclude that the skeletal remains are in fact the remains of Mr Money.
Mr Money worked for a number of years in Europe and in other locations throughout the world and has over many years pursued his love of sailing around the world. In 1985 Mr Money returned to Australia to care for his ill father who passed away in March 1991. In November 1991 Mr Money purchased the yacht "Loru". He then resumed his travels, circumnavigating Australia and also voyaged to Alaska, Hawaii, the west coast of America, Pitcairn Island and New Zealand. In more recent years Mr Money has sailed with his brother and other members of his family. In so far as his health is concerned it was determined that he has, over a period of time, had skin cancers removed, he suffered deep vein thrombosis during a flight to the United Kingdom in 1998 and was prescribed blood thinning medication and was noted to have become overweight in recent years. During his travels Mr Money would contact his brother Grahame Money approximately every three months, and in fact he had contacted his brother approximately a week prior to the remains being located by the Croswells. During Mr Money's last telephone conversation with his brother he outlined that he was in Strahan, having travelled from Portland to Macquarie Harbour. Mr Money had planned to remain in and about Tasmania for a period of time and had also made arrangements to hike the Overland Track in April 2011 with his cousin, Barbara Levick and her partner. During this final conversation Mr Money appeared to be in good spirits and his brother, who is the Executor of Mr Money's Will, confirmed that Mr Money's finances were in good order and that he had no financial problems.
I am satisfied that Mr Money has left his yacht and rowed ashore in the yacht's tender and upon coming ashore has either suffered a fatal or debilitating medical incident or some other form of misadventure that has caused his death or has totally incapacitated him. Following this his body has been scavenged by Tasmanian Devils which are known to have a high population in that area. The actual cause of death was unable to be determined due to the limited remains that were provided to the forensic pathologist. Enquiries of Dr Rodrigo Hamede from the University of Tasmania, who is an expert on the Tasmanian Devil, confirms that the animal is highly capable of consuming an entire human body within a short period of time.
There are no indications at all that any other person played any role in the death of Mr Money and I am satisfied that his death was either as a result of natural causes or accidental misadventure. I am satisfied that a full and detailed investigation has been undertaken in order to confirm the identity of Mr Money and also to exclude any suspicious circumstances in relation to his death.
The estimation of the date of death is based upon telephone contact to Mr Money by family members on 22 or 23 December 2011 and observations of Mr Robert Brown who sailed into Kelly Basin on the afternoon of 25 December 2011. During his overnight stay Mr Brown noted no movement or lights on the "Loru" nor does he recall seeing a dinghy on or near the yacht.
Although Mr Money died at an isolated area and alone, it is clear from the information provided from family members that he was happy and comfortable in his own company and engaged in a way of life that he loved.
Before concluding I wish to convey my sincere condolences to the family of Mr Money.
Dated the 21 day of November 2011 at Hobart in the state of Tasmania.