Record of Investigation Into Death

Coroners Act 1995
Coroners Regulations 1996
Regulation 14
Form 4


I, Chris Webster, Coroner, having investigated the death of

Alicia Ellen Knott and Rebecca Jane Shaw

have decided not to hold a public inquest hearing into these deaths because my investigations have sufficiently disclosed the identities, the time, place, causes of death, relevant circumstances concerning how the deaths occurred and the particulars needed to register the deaths 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.

 
I Find:

1. (a) Alicia Ellen Knott (Ms Knott) was born in Hobart, Tasmania on 13 February 1981 and was aged 30 years at the time of her death.
 
(b) Ms Knott never married however she had three young children and was not employed at the time of her death.

(c) Ms Knott died at Huonville on 13 November 2011 as a result of multiple blunt trauma injuries sustained as a passenger in a motor vehicle crash.

2. (a) Rebecca Jane Shaw (Ms Shaw) was born at Franklin, Tasmania on 27 October 1980 and was aged 31 years at the time of her death.

(b) Ms Shaw never married however she had been in a long-term relationship that bore three young children. She was not employed at the time of her death.

(c) Ms Shaw died at Huonville on 13 November 2011 as a result of blunt trauma injuries sustained as the driver of a motor vehicle involved in a crash.


Background: Ms Knott


Alicia Ellen Knott was born in Hobart on 13 February, 1981 and at the time of her death was not employed.  She had not been successful in achieving a high educational standard and due to mental health related issues suffered mood swings.

About the age of 7 years Ms Knott was diagnosed with Perthes disease in her right hip which caused her to suffer constant osteoarthritic pain. She was prescribed medication for this however became addicted to medications later in life.  She overcame her pain medication addiction and at the time of her death had been prescribed buprenorphine patches for pain management.  Ms Knott was also on prescribed medication as a result if being diagnosed with a schizoaffective disorder when aged around 20 years.

Ms Knott had previously engaged in the abuse of prescription medication and other illicit drugs and on the birth of her twin sons was unable to care for them. They were being raised within Ms Knott’s extended family and at the time of her death she was preparing to once again participate in a pharmacotherapy program.

Background: Ms Shaw


Rebecca Jayne SHAW was born in Franklin on 27 October 1980. She had four siblings and is now survived by two brothers and one sister.  She completed her education at year 10 in Huonville and had three children aged 13, 11 and 8 with a partner. At the time of her death Ms Shaw was unemployed.

Ms Shaw was diagnosed with bipolar disorder two months prior to her death and prescribed medication to control her condition.  She had previously presented complaining of chronic lower back pain, poor sleep and concentration, low energy levels and poor appetite. She was diagnosed with depression but was otherwise in good health.

Preceding Circumstances:-


On Saturday 12 November 2011 Ms Shaw spent the evening at home with her children and their father.  She woke between 9 & 10am and was said to be well and happy. The family spent time at the Huonville Show and returned home before Ms Knott arrived to spend time with Ms Shaw at about 3pm.  Ms Shaw and Ms Knott had been friends since attending school together.  Between 3.30 and 4.00pm both drove another person to Bridgewater before returning about 6.00pm. They then drove to Ms Knott’s for a short time before purchasing alcohol for the evening and returning to Ms Shaw’s residence about 7.00pm

Just prior to midnight Ms Shaw drove her vehicle, a Holden Nova Sedan, registration number DA-8231, with Ms Knott, to purchase more alcohol. They offered a male pedestrian, Kyle Doyle, who was unknown to either, a lift back to his home on Knights Road.   Mr Doyle indicates that both women were talkative but did not appear to be overly affected by alcohol, saying that Ms Shaw drove within the speed limit and she was driving normally before he was dropped at his home about 12.05am, Sunday 13 November.

Ms Shaw and Ms Knott returned home shortly after having left when Ms Shaw used the home computer to transfer money so that she could use her access card.  She then indicated to her partner, Mr Damian Oates, (Mr Oates) that they would go driving to see which pubs were open and they would go to Franklin if they had to.

Sometime before 12.20am Ms Shaw entered the bar of the Lady Franklin Hotel at Franklin and purchased a quantity of alcoholic drinks. She then left but returned around 12.45am in the company of Ms Knott.  Ms Shaw purchased a further quantity of alcohol and Ms Knott consumed one of the drinks at the bar before both left.  Ms Shaw did not consume any alcohol on the premises and the licensee, Mr Vandenbroek said that he did not smell alcohol on Ms Shaw and she did not appear to be affected by alcohol to him.  Ms Shaw sent a text message to her partner, Mr Oates, at about 1.25am saying “Leaving now, love you, back soon”.

Circumstances and investigation of the crash:
t  about 1.35am on Sunday 13 November 2011 Ms Shaw was driving her blue Holden Nova, registration number DA 8231, in an easterly direction on Sale Street, Huonville.  Ms Knott was the front seat passenger in the vehicle and both were wearing their seatbelts.

Ms Shaw has driven past the Huonville Police Station and approached an open right hand curve at an excessive speed, determined to be about 94 km/h, when the rear of the vehicle has begun to move to the left.  Ms Shaw has attempted to correct this however the vehicle has travelled out of control, passenger side first, toward the curbed road edge.  The vehicle has collided with the curb and then struck a concrete utility pole, roof first.

The impact damage to the vehicle was severe and both persons were declared deceased at the accident site and emergency response personnel were required to assist with removing both from the vehicle.

A post mortem examination of both Ms Knott and Ms Shaw was conducted in Hobart on 14 November 2011 by Forensic Pathologist Dr Don Ritchey.  His examination of Ms Knott indicated that the cause of her death was multiple blunt traumatic injuries received in a motor vehicle accident.

The examination of Ms Shaw also indicated the cause of her death to be multiple blunt traumatic injuries received in a motor vehicle accident.  As the driver of the vehicle at the time of the accident Ms Shaw’s toxicology results further indicated the presence of alcohol in excess of three times the lawful limit to be driving a motor vehicle.

On 23 November 2011 a mechanical inspection of the Holden Nova, registration number DA -8231,  was conducted by a qualified Transport Inspector. Other than both front tyres showing excessive wear no other significant defect with the vehicle was identified as directly contributing to the accident.

The weather at the time of the accident was fine and dry and atmospheric conditions were not contributory to the circumstances of the accident.

The road surface at the site of the accident and of that leading to the area was a sealed bitumen surface. The condition of the road surface required minor repair but this was not a contributory factor in the circumstances of this accident. Nor would the condition of the road surface be an influence in its safe use by vehiclar traffic under normal and expected road use.

Street lighting in and approaching the area of the accident was deemed sufficent for the safe use of the roadway for normal and expected vehicular traffic and lighting at the time is not a contributory factor in the circumstances of this accident.


Findings and Comments:


I accept the conclusions reached by Forensic Pathologist Dr Don Ritchey as a result of his post mortem examination of both Ms Knott and Ms Shaw.  He determined that both Ms Knott and Ms Shaw died as a result of multiple blunt traumatic injuries received in the motor vehicle accident that occurred on Sale Street, Huonville on the morning of 13 November 2011.

I find that a thorough and comprehensive investigation was conducted into this matter and conclude that no other persons, other than Ms Knott and Ms Shaw, were involved in or contributed to this incident.

I further find that the determined excessive speed at which the vehicle was being driven by Ms Shaw was the primary contributing factor to the severity of the impact of the vehicle with the light pole and therefore the resultant fatal injuries to both persons.

I also accept that the elevated level of alcohol and the presence of cannabis detected in Ms Shaw would have severely influenced her ability to maintain proper control of the vehicle, particularly when driven in such a manner as determined by the investigation.

I conclude this matter by conveying my sincere condolences to the families and friends of both Ms Knott and Ms Shaw.


DATED: Wednesday 2 January 2013 at Hobart in the State of Tasmania.


Christopher Webster
Coroner