RECORD OF INVESTIGATION INTO DEATH
Coroners Act 1995
Coroners Regulations 1996
I, Ian Roger Matterson, Coroner, having investigated the death of
WITHOUT HOLDING AN INQUEST
FIND THAT :
(‘the deceased’)died on the 28 August 2005 at the University of Tasmania, Grosvenor Street Sandy Bay.
The deceased was born in Hobart and was aged 21 years. He was a single man and was a full time student at the University of Tasmania.
I find that the deceased died as a result of a head injury following a fall due to alcohol intoxication.
CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING THE DEATH : -
The deceased was a full time student at the University of Tasmania, studying law, and was in his third year. He resided full time at Christ College, College Road, Sandy Bay. He was president of the college, was a keen sportsman, was fit and healthy, enjoyed a wide circle of friends, and was very popular and well liked.
On Saturday the 27 August 2005 the deceased, together with other executive members of the College Club attended the Jane Franklin Ball, at the Grand Chancellor. Prior to leaving the College the deceased and three other members had a beer in a members room. They then attended the Jane Franklin Hall where they spoke to a number of other students and then travelled in the deceased’s vehicle, to the Wrest Point Casino, where along with 150 other students caught the ferry “Cartela” to the city. On the ferry trip the group consumed two glasses of champagne each, which was supplied.
The ferry docked at Hobart and all passengers embarked, and walked to the Grand Chancellor. On arriving at the venue, the group including the deceased had to wait to gain access to the Grand Ballroom and while waiting they consumed 4 to 5 beers each, in the foyer. During the course of the evening the deceased and his three college companions shared 13 jugs of beer, the deceased also consuming some red wine.
The group left the Grand Chancellor at around 12 midnight and caught a bus back to the College, with the intention of continuing on at the football clubrooms at the University. Transport was provided for all patrons from the Grand Chancellor, however inquiries have failed to reveal if the deceased in fact caught the provided transport, walked or obtained a lift by other means. It is more than likely than he did in fact travel by bus.
Evidence from a “friend”, who also attended the ball at the Grand Chancellor and knew the deceased, and had danced with him during the evening, left, leaving behind her purse which contained her personal belongings and mobile phone. On discovering that she had done same, she went back into the ballroom and was unable to locate her belongings. She then travelled by bus back to the University. En route several phone calls were made to other party attendee’s by a Henry Dobson in an attempt to find out who may have picked up the mobile phone and purse. One of those calls was to the deceased’s mobile which rang out. Also several calls were made to “the friends” phone, which also rang out.
At about 12.30am another group who had attended the ball were walking from their bus towards the University Football Club rooms, when they saw the deceased, lying face down in front of the Law Café, facing the oval. They rendered assistance, turning him onto his side and into the recovery position. The deceased began to convulse and his nose was bleeding badly. The group provided CPR until paramedics arrived, but unfortunately all attempts to resuscitate the deceased were unsuccessful.
At the scene the purse and mobile phone belonging to “the friend” was located near the deceased. Inquiries at the scene by Uniform, Criminal Investigation, and Forensic personnel, together with the State Government Pathologist, Dr Chris Lawrence, indicated that the deceased had been walking, carrying the bag of “the friend” which he had picked up from the Grand Chancellor after it had been left there by her. The evidence suggests that while attempting to answer her phone, which had been activated by calls made by “another friend”, he has somehow tripped and fallen, possibly striking his head on a nearby out door table.
A toxicology examination after death revealed a blood/alcohol concentration of 0.314g/100ml.
A post mortem examination revealed a skull fracture and head injury. The patterns of injuries is consistent with a fall. The cause of death is head injury following a fall due to alcohol intoxication.
The examination at post mortem revealed a burn mark on the deceased’s right forearm. Evidence indicates that the burn mark was made by a fork being heated over a candle and placed on his forearm leaving the mark. I find that the burn was inflicted with the consent of the deceased while the deceased was attending the ball at the Grand Chancellor. He agreed to have the burn inflicted after witnessing similar acts of “horse play” committed on other attendees. .
COMMENTS & RECOMMENDATIONS: –
From the information before me I am satisfied that a full and detailed investigation has taken place concerning the death of “the deceased” and there are no suspicious circumstances.
I find that the deceased, while significantly intoxicated, resulting from the consumption of a large quantity of alcoholic beverages while attending a organised function, tripped and fell in the grounds of the University of Tasmania, while more than likely trying to answer a mobile telephone, striking his head on a out door table, causing a skull fracture and head injury, resulting in his death.
This tragic and unfortunate accident is a reminder of the excessive consumption, and the responsible serving, of alcohol. Although I do not intend to make any recommendations resulting from this death, it is timely that I should send a strong message to those, who in the future may organise and be responsible for such events, to carefully consider their responsibilities and liabilities. Although it is generally considered that one must take responsibilities for their own actions, this tragic death may well have been prevented had measures been in place to limit the quantity of alcohol to all individuals, at such organised events.
Before I conclude this matter, I wish to convey my sincere condolences to the family of the deceased.
This matter is now concluded
DATED: Tuesday, 3 January 2006 at Hobart in the state of Tasmania