RECORD OF INVESTIGATION INTO DEATH (WITHOUT INQUEST)
Coroners Act 1995
Coroners Rules 2006
I, Robert Pearce, Coroner, having investigated the death of
Samuel George Taylor
WITHOUT HOLDING AN INQUEST
(a) The identity of the deceased person is Samuel George Taylor, born 26 July 1921 in Derbyshire in England.
(b) Mr Taylor’s death occurred as a result of being struck by a car in Frederick Street, between Charles Street and St John Street, Launceston, on 1 March 2011.
(c) The cause of his death is the injuries, namely fracture of the skull bone with intracranial haemorrhage and fracture of the thoracic spine, suffered in the collision.
(d) Mr Taylor died on 1 March 2011 in the Launceston General Hospital.
(e) Another person, Kim Maree Roe, contributed to the cause of Mr Taylor’s death.
1. Mr Taylor was aged 89. He was a retired social worker. Prior to his death he lived at 186 Hobart Road, Kings Meadows with his partner and carer Mavis Armstrong.
2. On 1 March 2011 Mr Taylor attended a practice for the Launceston Male Choir at Milton Hall, Frederick Street, Launceston. He was accompanied by Mrs Armstrong. The vehicle they were travelling in was parked on the northern side of Frederick Street, opposite the hall. Mr Taylor had limited mobility. He walked with the assistance of a frame. He left the choir practice with Mrs Armstrong at about 9.00pm.
3. Outside on the footpath Mrs Armstrong paused to greet a person she knew. Mr Taylor stepped out onto the roadway and attempted to cross. As he did so he so he was struck by a car, a red 1991 Mazda 323 sedan, being driven west on Frederick Street by Kim Maree Roe.
4. The coronial investigation has been has been extensive. It has been principally conducted by Tasmania Police officers. One of those officers, Sergeant Michael Davis, is a highly experienced member of the Accident Investigation Squad. Sergeant Davis has reported on his investigation of the circumstances of the collision.
5. Frederick Street, at the crash site, runs in an east/west direction and is a two way street. At that location it has a speed restriction of 50kph. Traffic entering Frederick Street from St John Street negotiates a roundabout, and to travel a distance of 108 metres to the intersection with Charles Street vehicles traveling in that direction have a slight downhill gradient. The southern side west bound lane is 3.4 metres wide and is delineated by a broken white line in about the centre of the roadway and a solid white line on the southern lane edge. On both sides of the street there are marked parking bays between the lane edge and the gutter. Beyond the gutter is the kerb. The distance between the kerb edge and the lane edge line is 3.8 metres.
6. The point of impact was 2.5 metres across the southern side west bound lane. Sergeant Davis concluded that Mr Taylor had walked 6.3 metres from where he walked down a driveway across the kerb line before he was struck by the car. There was no sign of braking before the point of collision.
7. The weather at the time was clear and fine. It was dark. The witnesses to the accident describe the area as not being particularly well lit. The headlights of Mrs Roe’s car were on. Mr Taylor was wearing dark trousers and a dark cardigan and his walking frame was dark red.
Comments & Recommendations:
8. The primary focus of an inquest is to seek out and record the facts concerning the death of a person. It is a fact finding exercise of an inquisitorial nature. It is not the function of an inquest to attribute any moral or legal responsibility or liability for a death or to hint at blame. It is not a means of apportioning guilt. A coroner is to determine facts. The facts, once determined, will speak for themselves and it is for others to, if necessary, draw legal conclusions.
9. Thus, a finding that a person contributed to the cause of death of another, if it is made, does not and should not involve a finding that the person has some criminal or civil responsibility for the death. The reference to contribution to the cause of death reflects the commonplace truth that it is sufficient if a person's acts or omissions are a cause of a relevant event. The test of contribution is solely whether a person's conduct caused the death. It may have been the only cause or one of several causes.
10. I am satisfied that Mrs Roe did not see Mr Taylor before the moment of impact. The evidence disclosed by the coronial investigation is, I find, consistent with that assertion although the evidence discloses also that she had opportunity, albeit limited, to observe him. There is nothing about the manner of her driving, speed or the condition of her vehicle that contributed to the collision. However there is no doubt that Mr Taylor died as a consequence of the injuries he suffered as a result of being struck by the car Mrs Roe was driving and, in accordance with the principles I have outlined, it is appropriate to find that she contributed to his death. That Mr Taylor was on the roadway, likely to have been moving slowly and wearing dark clothing in a modestly lit area were also contributing factors.
11. I have decided not to hold in inquest into Mr Taylor’s death. The investigation has sufficiently disclosed the identity of the deceased person, the time, place, the relevant circumstances concerning his death and the particulars needed to register his death under the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act. I find that Kim Marie Roe is a person who contributed to Mr Taylor’s death. I do not consider that an inquest is likely to elicit any further information concerning the issues that I am required to determine.
I convey my sincere condolences to Mr Taylor’s family.
DATED: 31 July 2012 at Launceston in Tasmania