Record of Investigation Into Death (Without Inquest)
Corners Act 1995
Coroners Rules 2006
I, Stephen Carey, Coroner, having investigated the death of Martin Francis HEENAN.
Without holding an inquest into this death because my investigations have sufficiently disclosed the identity of the deceased, the date, place, cause of death, relevant circumstances concerning how his death occurred and the particulars needed to register his 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.
(a) The deceased is Martin Francis Heenan (“Mr Heenan”) who died at a precise time unable to be determined but between 18 September 2013 and 19 September 2013 at the Penguin Caravan Park, Site 30, Johnsons Beach Rd, Penguin in Tasmania.
(b) Mr Heenan was born at Brisbane, Queensland on 14 August 1961 and was aged 52 years at the time of his death.
(c) Mr Heenan was a single person who was a disability pensioner.
(d) Mr Heenan died as a result of combined drug (alcohol, morphine and benzodiazepine) intoxication in a man who was suffering alcoholic, heart and liver disease.
Circumstances Surrounding The Death:
Mr Heenan had been living in Tasmania for approximately 5 years. Until recently he was cohabiting with an associate, Mr Kris Jones, however Mr Jones died approximately a week prior to Mr Heenan’s death; his death was as a result of liver disease associated with alcohol abuse. The death of Mr Jones did affect Mr Heenan who became depressed following this incident. Mr Heenan did not have many friends or regular visitors and although he had 4 children from a de-facto relationship that ended in 2003 he was estranged from his family. He was known to some people at the caravan park, in particular Deborah Woodberry who attempted to assist Mr Heenan at times in caring for himself. Mr Heenan was last seen at his caravan by Ms Woodberry between 4:00pm and 5:20pm on 18 September 2013. She arranged to return to his caravan the following morning to provide him with some food as he had apparently not been eating anything of substance in the previous days. At 10:50am on 19 September 2013 Ms Woodberry attended Mr Heenan’s caravan but he did not answer to her calls. She entered the van and located Mr Heenan sitting on the couch, slumped to his right. He was apparently deceased and Ms Woodberry contacted the caretaker, Ms Doreen Russell, who contacted Tas Ambulance, upon their arrival no resuscitation endeavours were initiated as Mr Heenan was obviously dead and Tasmania Police were notified and attended the scene. There were no suspicious circumstances or signs of trauma.
Persons interviewed as a result of this matter confirmed that Mr Heenan had a serious issue with alcohol abuse and that he drank every day and appeared significantly affected by alcohol every day.
Mr Heenan’s treating general practitioner, Dr Berryman, confirmed that Mr Heenan was addicted to alcohol but he also suffered chronic severe back pain and was prescribed slow release narcotic medication in respect of his chronic pain.
Post-mortem revealed that Mr Heenan had a dilated cardiomyopathy, acute alcohol intoxication (0.189gm/100ml) and cirrhosis of the liver associated with heavy alcohol use. There was also a high therapeutic level of morphine. The position of the body when discovered was also noted to be consistent with positional asphyxia associated with intoxication.
Comments and Recommendations:
The circumstances of Mr Heenan’s death do not require me to make any recommendations or comments pursuant to section 28 of the Coroners Act 1995.
Before I conclude this matter, I wish to convey my sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr Heenan.
DATED: 1 July 2014 at Hobart in the state of Tasmania.