RECORD OF INVESTIGATION INTO DEATH (WITHOUT INQUEST)
Coroners Act 1995
Coroners Rules 2006
I, Robert Pearce, Coroner, having investigated the death of
WITHOUT HOLDING AN INQUEST
(a) The identity of the deceased person is MS R, born in England.
(b) Ms R died on or about 12 September 2011 at or near Leven Canyon Lookout, Loongana in Tasmania.
(c) Ms R’s death occurred as a result of her jumping from a cliff near the Leven Canyon Lookout.
(d) The cause of her death was multiple traumatic injuries suffered in the fall including head and vertrabal injuries, limb fractures and a lacerated lung.
(e) No other person contributed to the cause of Ms R’s death.
1. Ms R was aged 46. Prior to her death she lived at Sassafras with her partner Mr W. They had been together for 26 years. They had no children.
2. Ms R was employed as a disability support worker.
3. On 12 September 2011 Mr W reported to Tasmania Police that Ms R was missing. Family members, officers from the police search and rescue division and the State Emergency Service attempted to locate her over the next couple of days. On 14 September 2011 her car was found in the car park at the Leven Canyon Lookout. On the morning of 15 September 2011 Ms R was found dead about 200 metres below the lookout.
4. A post mortem examination conducted on 16 September 2011 disclosed multiple fatal traumatic injuries.
5. The investigation has been carried out on behalf of the coroner by Tasmania Police. In the course of the investigation Ms R’s partner and family members have been interviewed. The police involved in the search have made detailed statutory declarations. Hospital records and letters from treating medical practitioners have been obtained and examined.
6. Ms R was last seen by her partner in the morning of 12 September 2011, he thought at about 9.30am, when she left saying she was going into Devonport and expected to be home at lunchtime. In the course of the investigation the police established that Ms R was seen alone at the Wattle Hill Service Station at Latrobe at 9.20am. At the service station she purchased a 7.5 kg LPG gas bottle. She was also seen alone, by then wearing different clothes, at a service station at Railton.
7. For a few years she had not enjoyed good health. She was being treated for bowel disease. In the months before her death she was also treated for depression. She was away from work. Her depression was likely contributed to by her confronting a history of childhood sexual abuse. She had recently threatened suicide. It is possible that some medication contributed to her mental state.
8. In the car, when it was located, were the clothes she had worn when she left home. The clothes were very wet. Also found was a length of poly pipe she had apparently taken from home and white plastic netting of the type placed around LPG bottles. The gas bottle itself was not located.
9. A conclusion of suicide should not be reached lightly. However in this case I am satisfied that Ms R took her own life and that no other person contributed to her death. In reaching that conclusion I have taken into account the following matters:
(a) the physical circumstances at the lookout indicate a deliberate walk to the cliff edge. High rails at the end of the lookout and the location at which Ms R’s glasses were located suggest that she crossed the railings well before the end of the platform and walked to the cliff edge. The lookout itself does not extend to the cliff edge;
(b) there was no sign of any struggle either on the walkway or at the cliff edge;
(c) the body was located on the natural fall line from the cliff edge;
(d) there is no evidence at all of the involvement of another person and the police are satisfied with the account of the movements of all other persons of interest;
(e) the evidence of the mental state of Ms R in the period before her death and presence of wet clothes, the purchase of the gas bottle and the presence of the poly pipe all suggest conscious preparation.
Comments & Recommendations
10. I have decided not to hold in inquest into Ms R’s death. The investigation has sufficiently disclosed the identity of the deceased person, the time, place, the relevant circumstances concerning her death and the particulars needed to register her death under the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act. I am satisfied that no other person contributed to Ms R’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 Ms R’s partner and other family members.
DATED: 14th day of September 2012 at Launceston in Tasmania