Record of Investigation into Death (Without Inquest)
Coroners Act 1995
Coroners Rules 2006
I, Christopher Webster, Coroner, having investigated the death of
Blair Anthony Hepburn
Without holding and Inquest
Blair Anthony Hepburn (Blair) died on 4 July 2009 at 54 Fairfax Terrace, New Norfolk.
Blair was born in Hobart on 9 February 2004 and was aged 5 years.
I find that Blair died of asphyxia due to hanging that occurred after a trampoline accident.
Circumstances Surrounding the Death: -
Blair is the son of Adrian David Hepburn (Mr Hepburn) and Alison Ann Hepburn (Mrs Hepburn). He lived at 54 Fairfax Terrace, New Norfolk with his parents and sister, Jordynn.
During the morning of Saturday 4 July 2009 Blair was playing in the backyard at his home residence.
At approximately 11am, Mrs Hepburn drove from the home residence to Battery World in Glenorchy to purchase a battery for the home telephone. She left her husband and two children at home.
Around 11.15am Mr Hepburn made himself a cup of coffee and went outside to the patio to have a cigarette. At this time Jordynn was inside watching the television in the lounge room and Blair was playing in the backyard. Blair could be seen in the rear yard from the lounge room window.
Mr Hepburn returned to the kitchen and placed his cup in the sink. He prepared a cold drink for his daughter and turned on another television in the toy room for her to watch. Mr Hepburn returned to the lounge room and through the window he could see his son hanging from the clothesline.
Blair was caught by his bicycle helmet chin strap near one of the struts and cables of the clothesline. Mr Hepburn immediately ran outside and lifted his son down, who was at that time motionless. He unclipped his helmet and took him inside to telephone an ambulance. Mr Hepburn dialled 000 from his mobile telephone and continued CPR until the arrival of ambulance personnel.
Ambulance personnel determined that Blair was deceased after approximately 45 minutes of unsuccessful resuscitative efforts.
A post mortem examination was conducted by Forensic Pathologist, Dr Donald Ritchey. He determined the cause of death to be asphyxia due to hanging that occurred after a trampoline accident. Dr Ritchey commented 'The autopsy revealed a well developed, well nourished, apparently well cared for prepubescent Caucasian boy with a strap-like abrasion on the undersurface of the chin/upper neck and petechial haemorrhages of the peri-orbital skin (skin surrounding the eyes) and on the palpebral conjunctive (lining of the eyelids). These findings are interpreted by me to suggest Blair has died as the result of acute asphyxia. There were no chronic injuries or suspicious/restraint type injuries identified.'
Toxicology results from a post mortem blood sample were unremarkable.
Conclusion and Recommendations:
I am satisfied that a thorough and detailed investigation has occurred into the death of Blair and that there are no suspicious circumstances.
I accept the opinion of Dr Ritchey and find that Blair died as a result of asphyxia due to hanging that occurred after a trampoline accident.
It is apparent upon the evidence that Blair was a healthy, active and adventurous child in a loving and caring family environment. He was at all times required to wear his bicycle helmet when riding his bike. He was contained within a secure backyard and was under the supervision of a responsible parent.
At some point the trampoline had been moved underneath the clothes line to fully utilise the space in the backyard. After being on the trampoline, Blair entangled himself in the clothes line by the strap of his bicycle helmet which resulted in his tragic death.
It is therefore my recommendation that trampolines are not positioned underneath clothes lines, trees, or any similar obstruction where a child might hit themselves or become entangled.
I conclude by conveying my sincere condolences to Blairs family.
Dated: Tuesday, 15 June 2010 at Hobart in the State of Tasmania.