Building inspector Casey Van Hese leaving the Rockhampton Magistrates Court after giving evidence at Isabella Diefenbach’s inquest.
Building inspector Casey Van Hese leaving the Rockhampton Magistrates Court after giving evidence at Isabella Diefenbach’s inquest. Emma Mcbryde Rokcourt

Floor boards replaced: carpenter

A CARPENTER says he replaced two floor boards riddled with wood rot on a deck before baby Isabella Diefenbach fell to her death.

Unfortunately it was the board right next to those replaced that gave way when her father's foot fell through and Isabella slipped from his arms.

Steven Clarke testified yesterday, on the fourth day of the Rockhampton coronial inquest into the infant's death.

He said he was asked to fix the deck by his mate Damien Lagos, who owned the home.

Mr Lagos rented it out to Isabella's parents Adam and Jennifer Diefenbach through O'Reilly's Real Estate.

Mr Clarke had done the repairs to the rotting wooden floor boards only a month before the seven-week-old, known to her family as Bella, died on May 29, 2010.

Mr Clarke told the court he was at the house with Mr Lagos and O'Reilly's principal Ross O'Reilly.

He testified that Mr O'Reilly had pointed to the boards that needed to be replaced.

But Mr O'Reilly's defence lawyer, Jennifer Rosengren, said her client stated that he had a building and pest inspection report detailing wood rot in areas throughout the veranda, but gave no specific directions as to which planks to fix.

The March 8, 2010, report from building inspector Casey Van Hese, said the veranda had "moderate to extensive decay".

Mr Van Hese said between three and eight boards were rotting. He testified it was often difficult to identify wood rot without drilling holes or banging on the wood with a hammer.

When Mr Clarke made repairs to the deck, he said, he had checked it for mould and wood rot and replaced the necessary floor boards.

O'Reilly's property manager, Chantal Stevens testified that she received a repair request in February, but Mrs Diefenbach had ticked "not urgent".

Ms Stevens said she told Mr Lagos in an email that the deck did not seem dangerous.


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