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Rotten floor blamed for death

Jennifer Diefenbach (left) yesterday testified at the coronial inquest into the death of her seven-week-old daughter Isabella Diefenbach.
Jennifer Diefenbach (left) yesterday testified at the coronial inquest into the death of her seven-week-old daughter Isabella Diefenbach. Emma Mcbryde Rokinquest

JENNIFER Diefenbach could not hold back her tears as she described finding her baby after the three-metre fall that killed her.

It was a momentary break from the composure shown by Mrs Diefenbach during her lengthy testimony yesterday at the Rockhampton coronial inquest into her daughter Isabella's death.

The seven-week-old's life was tragically cut short when a wooden board on the front deck of their Yeppoon family home gave way underneath her father, Adam Diefenbach, who was holding Isabella, affectionately known as Bella, on May 29, 2010.

Mrs Diefenbach told the court as her husband fell, Bella fell from his arms and over a railing.

Mrs Diefenbach testified her husband had gone on to the deck to placate the upset baby when he noticed a rotting wooden board.

Mrs Diefenbach said her husband was pointing the board out to her with his foot when it cracked and he fell through the deck.

It was only one of several decaying boards on the deck of the house they were renting from O'Reilly's Real Estate, according to Mrs Diefenbach.

She said she had repeatedly complained to the rental agency by phone, email and through the Residential Tenancies Authority and in person, but nothing had been done.

Mrs Diefenbach described the house as plagued by maintenance problems.

"It was very dirty, the garden had been overgrown, the fence was practically falling over," she said of the house when the couple first moved there in November 2009.

But during her cross-examination of Mrs Diefenbach, counsel assisting the coroner, Ainslie Kirkegaard, said there was no record of all of Mrs Diefenbach's complaints and three O'Reilly's staff members could not recall her telling them about the rotting deck when she said she did.

The inquest will investigate to what extent the Diefenbach's concerns about the deck were communicated to O'Reilly's, along with the obligations of tenants, letting agents and lessors relating to the maintenance and repair of residential rental properties.

The real estate agency's and landlord, Mr Lagos', response to the Diefenbach's complaints will also come under scrutiny.

The inquest is expected to continue for the rest of this week.

Topics:  coroners court inquest isabella diefenbach


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