Delay in Coronial Hearing in Melbourne re Fatal Wall Collapse

Posted by Barbara Etter on 24 May 2013 | 0 Comments

As you would imagine, members of the public would be keen to knowwhat led to the fatal wall collapse in Melbourne that killed several people, including a brother and a sister, in Swanston Street on 28 March 2013. Unfortunately, The Australian reports today, 24 May 2013, that the coronial inquest into the deaths may be delayed for years. A Victorian Coroner's Court preliminary hearing on the collapse at the Grocon building site has been told the possibility of criminal or civil prosecution is still being explored by WorkSafe, the City of Melbourne, the Building Commission and Victoria Police. Judge Ian Gray said he was aware that a prosecution could delay the coronial inquest for two years or more, which could frustrate the grieving families. The next hearing was adjourned for a date to be fixed.

People do not realise or appreciate that Coronial legislation requires the Coroner to adjourn an inquest if criminal proceedings are commenced, for example. That is why there has not been a finalised inquest into the death of Bob Chappell who died on Australia Day 2009. The inquest had to be adjourned once Sue Neill-Fraser had been charged with his murder. The inquest could not resume until all the appeals had also been finalised. This did not occur until the High Court handed down its decision to refuse special leave to appeal in September 2012. The Coroner, Mr Glenn Hay, is now considering whether to resume the inquest into the death of Bob Chappell and will be considering numerous submissions made on the need to resume such inquest in the interests of justice. Ms Neill-Fraser is seeking a formal and public inquest into the manner and cause of Bob Chappell's death.

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