Record of Investigation Into Death (Without Inquest)
Corners Act 1995
Coroners Rules 2006
These findings have been de-identified by direction of the Coroner pursuant to S.57(1)(c) of Coroners Act 1995.
I, Donald John Jones, Coroner, having investigated a death of Mr T.
WITHOUT HOLDING AN INQUEST
I have decided not to hold an inquest into the death because the investigation into the death has sufficiently disclosed the identity of the deceased person, the time, place, cause of death, relevant circumstances concerning the death and the particulars needed to register the death under the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1999.
Having conducted an investigation I do not consider that the holding of an inquest would elicit any information further to that disclosed by the enquiries conducted.
(a) The deceased, identified as Mr T, died September 2012 at Cape Barren Island.
(b) Mr T was born on Flinders Island in Tasmania in August 1959 and was aged 53 years.
(c) Mr T was a single person who was a pensioner at the time of his death.
(d) I find that the deceased died as a result of extensive cranial fractures relating to a motor cycle accident.
Circumstances Surrounding the Death:
The deceased lived on Cape Barren Island with his family, but moved to Launceston to attend High School. On completion of his studies, Mr T returned to Cape Barren Island in the late 70s and remained there until his death.
Mr T rode motorcycles for most of his life, and sustained a significant injury to his left lower leg as a result of a motorcycle accident when he was a teenager. As a result of his injuries he was required him to wear built-up footwear in order for his legs to be an equal length.
In September 2012 at approximately 6:30pm Mr T went to visit some friends. Mr T arrived in a 4WD vehicle owned by him. Mr T consumed approximately 3 glasses of wine during his visit leaving at approximately 8:00pm. He was described as drunk and happy.
At approximately 8:30pm Mr T phoned his sister enquiring about another family member, who was on the island visiting. His sister informed him that the family member was at a friend’s house.
At approximately 9:30pm Mr T arrived at the friend’s house. At the time he was riding a motorcycle. It was obvious to his friend that Mr T had been drinking. Mr T had a backpack with him that contained a cask of white wine which he began to consume although his friend had told him he was not allowed to have it in her house. Mr T consumed approximately 3 mugs of wine before leaving the residence at 10:30pm approximately.
His friend states that at the time of Mr T leaving the residence there was bright moonlight providing illumination. Ms M indicated that Mr T was not wearing a helmet when he left her residence.
On Monday 1st October 2012, at approximately 7:15am Mr M was travelling along Thunder and Lighting Road when he noticed an object on the road. As his friend neared the object he realised that it was his friend, Mr T, and his motorcycle. He checked Mr T but found him to be cold and unresponsive, he realised Mr T had died.
Mr M immediately attended the local hospital to seek assistance from medical staff and the nurse-in-charge of the Health Care Clinic, returned with Mr M to the crash scene. She observed Mr T lying on his side entangled in a motorcycle with dried blood on his face and no signs of life. He was declared deceased.
Members of Tasmania Police attended and conducted an investigation surrounding the circumstances of Mr T’s death. An inspection of the scene identified a number of scratch marks and gouges in the road directly south of the deceased’s position and a large Bennetts wallaby and its joey were dead on the road.
Evidence and measurements taken from the scene would indicate that Mr T was travelling north on a road known as Long Point Road, when a large Bennetts wallaby has entered onto the road colliding with the motorcycle causing Mr T to crash. The motor cycle, with - the deceased entangled, came to rest approximately 21 metres north from the point of impact with the wallaby.
A post mortem examination conducted by pathologist Dr T Brain found the cause of death to be blunt cerebral trauma from a motor cycle accident. Toxicology testing of the deceased’s blood revealed a highly elevated alcohol level of 0.264%.
An inspection of the motorcycle disclosed: that it did not have any operable lights, either front or tail lights; ineffective front brakes, incapable of stopping the vehicle; a seized front suspension; poor tyre tread; providing little if any traction and; deteriorated rear wheel bearings, which would have caused the motorcycle to wobble severely when in motion and this movement would have been significantly exaggerated under braking, making it difficult to handle. I find the motorcycle to be not roadworthy and should not have been used by Mr T, particularly with his knowledge of motorcycles.
The investigation surrounding Mr T’s death did not reveal any suspicious circumstances and no other person contributed towards Mr T’s death.
Comments and Recommendations:
A blood alcohol concentration level of 0.264% of blood would significantly impair driving performance to the point of being unable to control a motor vehicle properly. It is estimated that the risk of a driver with an alcohol content of 0.18% being involved in an accident is approximately 50 times greater than that of a driver with a nil blood alcohol level.
Mr T was not wearing an approved Australian standard helmet that is required to be worn when operating a motor cycle on a public street. His cause of death is due to cerebral trauma and this may have been prevented, or minimised, if he had been wearing an approved helmet in accordance with the law.
The vehicle was not roadworthy.
This case should highlight to all road users the inherent dangers of drink driving. It also highlights the risks associated with using an un-roadworthy motor vehicle and the failure to wear appropriate safety clothing.
The lack of operable headlights and tail lights presented a great risk, not only to Mr T, but any other road user who may have been using the road lawfully on that night. The lack of operable lights would have made it extremely difficult for other road users to detect his presence on the road and an innocent person could have collided with his vehicle and be left to bear the suffering of taking the life of another.
It is important that persons who use the roads should respect the rights of others using those roads and not place them in jeopardy through their own foolishness or failings to comply with traffic laws.
It is important that users of motor vehicles have their vehicles regularly checked to ensure they are not putting their lives, their passenger’s lives, or the lives of other road users at risk.
Before I conclude this matter, I wish to convey my sincere condolences to the family of the deceased.
This matter is now concluded
DATED : 10 December 2013 at Burnie in the State of Tasmania