Record of Investigation into Death (Without Inquest)
I, Simon Cooper, Coroner, having investigated the suspected death of Dennis James O'Day
(a) The identity of the deceased is Dennis James O'Day;
(b) Mr O'Day died in the circumstances described in this finding;
(c) Mr O'Day died on or about 23 August 1980 at Hobart, Tasmania;
(d) Mr O'Day died as a result of jumping from the Tasman Bridge;
(e) Mr O'Day was born in Melbourne on 1 September 1961 and was aged 18 years at the time of his death; he was a single man whose occupation at the date of death was a security investigation agent; and
(f) No person contributed to the cause of Mr O'Day's death.
Dennis James O'Day was born in Melbourne on 1 September 1961. He was the son of Dennis and Jean O'Day and had two brothers Robert and Michael and a sister Christine.
Dennis was raised and educated in Hobart, and at age 17 joined the Army Reserve.
At the time of his disappearance in August 1980 he was working with his father (a well-known local private detective) as a private investigator.
Reportedly something of a loner, Dennis had no health issues and no recorded metal health history.
Circumstances Surrounding the Death:
For approximately six weeks leading up to his disappearance Dennis had been keeping company with a young woman, Ms Lexi Stocks, an instructrix at the Moat Riding School at Bagdad. Dennis seems to have met Ms Stocks when he, his father and his brother Michael went to the riding school in approximately June of 1980 for a 'break'.
A serious relationship between Dennis and Ms Stocks very quickly developed. His father reported a drop off in his productivity at work at the same time and that Dennis had discussed with him the possibility of moving in with Ms Stocks.
During Saturday 23 August 1980, Dennis and Ms Stocks were at the Moat Riding School. Mr Andrew Newton was also there. He subsequently told police investigating Dennis' disappearance that Dennis seemed 'tense' and not 'his usual self'.
In the evening at about 8.15pm Ms Stocks told Dennis their relationship was over. She described Dennis as being shocked by this news. Dennis made two phone calls, one to his mother in which he told her he loved her, and the other to his father in which he told him he could 'stick his job'.
Dennis and Ms Stocks then picked Mr Newton up from his work at the Hilltop Function Centre and Tavern at Granton and returned him to the riding school (where he lived). A little after 10.30pm Dennis said goodbye and left. He has not definitely been seen since, and certainly not by anyone that knew him.
Dennis' bright yellow Mini Minor was as seen by a witness at about 11.00pm parked on the gravel verge of the Lower Domain Road, near the Botanical Gardens car park roughly 200 metres from the Tasman Bridge. The witness saw a young man near the Mini. From the description given I am satisfied that the young man seen is highly likely to have been Dennis.
Shortly after, around midnight, another witness saw a young man walking on the southern footpath of the Tasman Bridge. Again from the witness' description, the time frame and circumstances associated with the two sightings, I am satisfied it is highly likely that the second witness saw Dennis on the footpath of the Tasman Bridge.
On Sunday 24 August 1980 an enquiry was commenced into Dennis' disappearance. His Mini Minor was found parked near the Botanical Gardens, locked and with a cold engine that afternoon. Items of clothing identified as belonging to Dennis were found in it.
Friends, associates and army colleagues were interviewed and searches were conducted. A media campaign was launched. A number of sightings were reported and investigated but no trace of Dennis has ever been found. From time to time since his disappearance, fresh enquiries have been conducted without result. In January 2014 checks were conducted with the Electoral Commission, Land Titles Office, Department of Health and Human Services, Power Companies, Births Deaths and Marriages, 10 of the most commonly used financial institutions, all State and Territory police information and unidentified bodies records, all State and Territory Transport Systems, Centrelink, Medicare, Prisons and Mental Health Institutions without any record being found of Dennis. No member of his family has ever heard from Dennis since the evening of 23 August 1980.
I am satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that Dennis James O'Day is dead. I am satisfied that the most probable explanation for his death is, distressed by the end of his relationship, he jumped from the Tasman Bridge during the night 23-24 August 1980.
Comments and Recommendations:
The circumstances of Dennis' death are not such as to require me to make any comments or recommendations pursuant to section 28 of the Coroners Act 1995.
In concluding this long outstanding matter I offer my sincere condolences to the family of Dennis James O'Day.Dated: 30 April 2015 at Hobart in the state of Tasmania