Coroner under attack

Michael and Kelly Hornby.
Michael and Kelly Hornby. Brett Wortman

A SUNSHINE Coast magistrate is under fire from two sets of grieving parents for her handling of separate coronial inquiries into fatal road accidents.

Both cases raise questions about the conduct of public officials, including police officers and the doctor who prescribed the medication that was found in excessive quantity in one of the drivers.

Michael and Kelly Hornby lodged a formal complaint with Attorney General Paul Lucas this week about Coroner Bernadette Callaghan's conduct of the inquest into the deaths of their five-year-old twins Grace and Jessica, Kelly's mother Denise Mansell, and Anthony Thomson, the driver of the other vehicle in a two-car collision at Woombye on May 8, 2009.

On Friday, the District Court will consider whether Ms Callaghan's findings should be set aside in another inquest into the death of 18-year-old Adrian Jones on Yandina-Bli Bli Rd on April 18, 2006.

"Coroner Callaghan had an opportunity to make a difference, to decide on matters that would reduce the chances of another family going through the pain that we continue to go through every day," the Hornbys' complaint to the Attorney General said.

"We honestly believe that had the matter been heard by another coroner, the findings and result of the inquest would have been different."

Adrian's parents, Neale Gentner and Chrissie Elliott, were equally dissatisfied after Ms Callaghan found Adrian was not speeding on his motorbike and that the other driver was not to blame in the collision which claimed his life.

They applied to the District Court to have Ms Callaghan's findings set aside. Ms Callaghan found that despite concerns about the conduct of the investigation, the matter did not warrant a CMC investigation.

What the Hornbys wanted

  • A review and amendments to the current legislative regime, the Transport Operations (Road Use Management - Driver Licensing) Regulation 2010 ("the Regulation").
  • A review and amendments to the processes and procedures utilised by the Queensland Police Service and the Department of Transport, particularly in relation to sharing of information as it relates to show cause notices.
  • A review and amendments to the practices relating to prescribed medications, particularly dexamphetamine.
  • Changes to the procedures relating to diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ("ADHD").
  • A review of the Assessing Fitness to Drive Guidelines.

What the coroner recommended

  • That the Department of Transport should continue to review the intersection of the Nambour Connection Road and Blackall Street with a view to considering whether traffic lights ought to be installed at the intersection or whether the medium ought to be closed

Topics:  accident fatal hornby

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