Brisbane Times

Further delays to Dreamworld inquest a 'stress' for families

Brisbane Times logo Brisbane Times 12/10/2018 12:20:00 Lucy Stone

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Any further delays to the coronial inquest into the 2016 Dreamworld tragedy due to an unexpected document dump from the theme park's lawyers would place stress on the families of the victims, counsel assisting the coroner has warned.

The inquest is seeking to determine what happened on October 25, 2016, when the Thunder River Rapids Ride malfunctioned, killing Cindy Low, Kate Goodchild, her brother Luke Dorsett and his partner Roozi Araghi.

More than 1000 new documents from the theme park's databases were presented to the coroner's team on Monday morning as hearings for the inquest resumed.

Dreamworld's lawyer Bruce Hodgkinson, SC, told coroner James McDougall the new documents were found as the legal team working on sourcing documents relevant to the inquest broadened their scope and searched personal employee databases as well as corporate databases.

Coronial staff were "desperately" trying to process the documents, which consisted of thousands of pages of emails and internal Dreamworld documents, for the coroner and lawyers involved in the inquest. An overnight power outage cost them hours of work on Thursday.

Barrister Matthew Hickey warned on Friday morning that he would reserve his right to request certain witnesses be recalled to give evidence a second time due to the new documents, but also emphasised the need for the inquest to conclude in a timely manner.

Counsel assisting the coroner Ken Fleming, QC, told reporters on Friday afternoon that "we would have hoped that we would have had all the documents before the inquiry started".

The documents presented to the inquest on Monday had been requested almost exactly two years ago, shortly after the tragedy.

Mr Fleming said it was very important everyone involved had "a fair go", after the inquest halted early on Thursday to give lawyers for the families of the victims time to read the new pages.

"Any delay will cause stress to the family, we've only delayed a couple of hours and that's fortuitous at the moment," Mr Fleming said.

"We don't want to be delayed any longer than that, but hopefully we'll have all the documents now.

"We all know that the old saying, 'justice delayed is justice denied' is a true saying.

"People's memories start to decline after a while and we need to get this finished just as soon as we possibly can."

The inquest still has another week of hearings starting on Monday, followed by another two scheduled hearings in November.

Police and emergency crews outside Dreamworld after the accident on the Thunder River Rapids ride. © Fairfax MediaPolice and emergency crews outside Dreamworld after the accident on the Thunder River Rapids ride.

Dreamworld attractions supervisor Jennie Knight continued giving evidence on Friday afternoon.

Ms Knight told the inquest her role did not include drafting operational memorandums, including two key documents raised repeatedly in the inquest in June, because her computer skills were not as good as other members of the attractions team.

She was CCed into emails between safety officer Ben Hicks and other members of the attractions team, where Mr Hicks commended ride operator Peter Nemeth for conducting risk assessments.

In one email, Mr Hicks asked, days before the tragedy, what the process would be for dealing with any hazards or issues Mr Nemeth had raised.

Ms Knight said she did not reply to the email "because it's not something I would have done".

As the afternoon lengthened and Ms Knight concluded her evidence, Mr Fleming raised the issue of witness lists for the next week.

Several external contractors and three of Dreamworld's engineering supervisors - Mark Watkins, Wayne Cox and Scott Ritchie - are expected to give evidence.

Former Dreamworld attractions manager Andrew Fyfe, who was scheduled to give evidence in the first week, was delayed due to the number of new documents presented to the inquest that closely involved him.

Attractions supervisor Jason Johns, following Ms Knight in giving evidence, said he was aware there were several breakdowns on the Thunder River Rapids Ride in the days leading up to the tragedy.

"I would say they were not rare, but they weren't frequent," he said.

A year before the tragedy, Mr Johns conducted a risk assessment under the supervision of safety officer Rebecca Ramsey, who had given evidence earlier at the inquest, on the Thunder River Rapids Ride.

In the risk assessment, Mr Johns raised an issue of CCTV needing to be improved, describing a potential risk to guests as operators couldn't see all aspects of the ride, and recommending a second monitor be installed.

Mr Johns, at the request of his manager Mr Fyfe, contacted engineer John Lossie asking him to investigate the possibility for the reduction of a four-button shutdown for the Thunder River Rapids Ride to a single button.

Mr Johns told the inquest that discussion was not prompted from any ride operator concerns, and he personally believed the four-button process was simple and easily understood by all ride operators.

The inquest continues.

12. lokakuuta 2018 15:20:00 Categories: Brisbane Times NDTV

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