Record of Investigation into Death (Without Inquest)
Coroners Act 1995
Coroners Rules 2006
I, Stephen Raymond Carey, Coroner, having investigated a death of Dayna Louise RIGBY
WITHOUT HOLDING AN INQUEST
Find That :
(a) Dayna Louise Rigby ("Ms Rigby") died on 24 November 2012 at 28 Ronald Street, Devonport;
(b) Ms Rigby was born in Launceston and was aged 24 years;
(c) Ms Rigby was a divorced woman who was, at the date of her death, unemployed;
(d) I find that Ms Rigby died as a result of mixed drug toxicity (cocaine, methylamphetamine, diazepam, ethanol);
(e) I am unable to exclude the possibility that some other person or persons may have contributed to the death of Ms Rigby.
Circumstances Surrounding the Death :
Ms Rigby married in February 2006 and, in 2007, their son was born. Soon after the birth of his son, Mr S became aware that Ms Rigby had commenced using illicit drugs believed to include ecstasy and amphetamines. This drug use increased and the marriage ended due to the change in Ms Rigby's lifestyle, her lack of interest in her marriage and the people with whom she was associating due to her drug taking. Subsequent to this time Ms Rigby commenced an itinerant lifestyle and this at times impacted upon the exercise by her of access to her son who was in the custody of his father. There were occasions when she would return her son to his father as she had altered her plans, or she would not be available at a time organised for the commencement of an access visit. Initially access by Ms Rigby was in the form of supervised visits; however, in the 18 months prior to her death she commenced having her son two nights per week from time to time. Ms Rigby had moved from Launceston to Devonport to allow this to occur and also to disassociate with the persons she engaged with as part of her illicit drug use. Mr S reports that on occasions over recent years he has observed Ms Rigby to be "very skinny and looking sick" when the effects of her drug taking were apparent; however on other occasions she would be looking healthy, these being occasions when she was attempting to abstain from illicit drugs.
In more recent periods there was some indication that Ms Rigby had abstained or at least decreased her use of illicit drugs; however indications were that in the latter period of 2012 she was once again using illicit drugs and had perhaps commenced using for the first time methamphetamine ("ICE"). In late 2012 Ms Rigby moved to a residence of a friend, Justin Lillico as she was obliged to give up her own premises as she could not pay the rent. At this time she was also selling items of her private property, Mr Lillico believes that this was in order to purchase drugs including methamphetamine.
On 23 November 2012, Ms Rigby spent the day at a friend's place, Ms Rebecca Martin-Wooldridge whom she had met 5 months earlier. During the day both women used ICE, Ms Martin-Wooldridge was smoking it through a crack pipe whereas Ms Rigby was both smoking and injecting it. At one stage Ms Martin-Wooldridge informed Ms Rigby how dangerous it was to inject ICE, but Ms Rigby dismissed this stating that she had been doing it for a long time. At that time Ms Rigby was also known to have amphetamines in her possession.
The women formed an intention to visit a Mr Mark Roland at his residence in Devonport and after contact was made with him that evening, he arranged to pay for a taxi for them to travel from Burnie to his residence at Devonport. Ms Rigby and Ms Martin-Wooldridge arrived at Mr Roland's residence at approximately midnight. At that time there were a number of people present and, I infer from the general nature of the police investigation, alcohol and possibly illicit drugs were being used by persons at that residence.
At some time after they had arrived, Ms Kainna Whaling and Ms Skie Enright found Ms Ribgy apparently unconscious in the toilet at this residence. Mr Roland was alerted to this fact and went to the toilet with other persons, a used syringe was found on the floor of the toilet near Ms Rigby and apparently a decision was made that Ms Rigby be moved to a vehicle that was parked outside. Apparently some attempt was made to determine whether Ms Rigby was alive; however attempts to locate a pulse were unsuccessful. At this time Ms Danielle Parker-Daniel contacted the emergency services 000 and requested an ambulance to come to the residence. Also at this time Ms Cinitta Roland (daughter of Mark Roland) was summoned as it was known she was undertaking study and training as a paramedic. Ms Roland felt for a pulse and could not locate one. The call to Tasmania Ambulance Service was received at approximately 2:29am on Saturday, 24 November 2012. They were advised that a female had "ODed" on ICE and looked like she was going into cardiac arrest. The caller to the Tasmania Ambulance Service advised initially that Mr Roland's address was where Ms Rigby was located but then provided an updated location as being on the nature strip of a residence further down that roadway. Apparently at some stage a decision or direction had been made that Ms Rigby be moved from the residence and for this reason she was carried to a motor vehicle parked outside the residence owned by Mr Shane Carpenter. Ms Rigby was placed in the back seat of the motor vehicle, also in that back seat was Ms Amy Morris. Mr Carpenter commenced driving down the street but heard voices yelling at him so he stopped the vehicle and they removed Ms Rigby from the back of the vehicle and put her on the nature strip. Some people who had followed the vehicle, in particular Ms Cinitta Roland, were involved in performing CPR. When Tasmania Ambulance Service personnel arrived, the paramedics assisted with the CPR. Police attended soon after, also assisted with CPR and, due to the initial indications that Ms Rigby had been moved and that the use of illicit drugs may have been relevant to the situation a police investigation was commenced. Ms Rigby was conveyed by ambulance to the Mersey Community Hospital where she was declared dead.
Subsequently a detailed police investigation ensued as to all circumstances of this incident. One person was charged and convicted of suppression of evidence in that he removed Ms Rigby's handbag from the scene; the needle syringe was also removed from the scene and not subsequently located however the evidence did not support the prosecution of a person in relation to that conduct.
The conduct of the persons at this residence subsequent to Ms Rigby's collapse at the very least was poor and for some callous. Save for the actions of a few, the conduct fell below that reasonably expected from a normal member of society and seemed to more directed at avoiding incrimination than concern for the welfare of Ms Rigby. The inference from the police investigation was that there was an intent by those present to remove Ms Rigby from the scene prior to any involvement of emergency services or police so as to hinder the police investigation. However, criminal prosecution in that regard did not occur given assertions made by some (which could not be discounted) that the decision to place her in the car was for the purpose of conveying her to hospital, notwithstanding that an ambulance had been alerted.
It is clear that Ms Rigby had injected illicit drugs on the night and morning of her death. The post-mortem autopsy of Ms Rigby revealed three needle puncture injuries in the right antecubital fossa adjacent to linear scars of the anterior right forearm, possibly representing old needle puncture injuries. Further, the toxicology testing of blood obtained at autopsy revealed fatal concentrations of cocaine and methamphetamine as well as their metabolites in addition to lesser amounts of diazepam and ethanol. The forensic pathologist concludes:
"Both cocaine and methamphetamine are strong stimulant medications that act on the central and peripheral nervous systems as well as the cardiovascular system where both drugs elevate blood pressure and increase the heart rate. Cocaine also has local anaesthetic properties that may render it directly toxic to the heart. The probable mechanism of death was cardiac arrhythmia. The relatively high ratios of parent drugs to metabolites suggests death occurred during or soon after injection."
I am unable to determine upon the evidence whether the cocaine was knowingly supplied to Ms Rigby or whether she found it or acquired it herself whilst at the residence in Devonport. I am also unable to determine whether any other person may have been involved in Ms Rigby's death by way of knowingly supplying the cocaine or assisting her in administering the drug or drugs to herself. It is apparently from this investigation that there is no indication that Ms Rigby had used cocaine prior to this occasion. I infer that she has, without any thought as to the consequences or recklessly administered a combination of cocaine and methamphetamine which has caused her death in a very short period after administration.
Comments and Recommendations :
I have decided not to hold a public inquest hearing into this death because my investigations have sufficiently disclosed the identity of Ms Rigby, the date, place, cause of death, relevant circumstances concerning how her death occurred and the particulars needed to register her 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 significant information further to that disclosed by the investigations conducted by me.
Before I conclude this matter, I wish to convey my sincere condolences to Ms Rigby's family.
This matter is now concluded
DATED: 25 August 2014 Hobart in the state of Tasmania