Skip to content

Was there a murder? Who knows?

Was There A Murder? Who Knows?

You would think it goes without saying that police officers would take a serious approach to the investigation of a sudden unexplained death.  In a recent Coronial Inquest into the death of a man on the premises of a medical practice as a result of a heroin overdose, it was noted that the police didn’t even think that there might have been a murder committed.  The investigation into the death was described as ‘slapdash and incompetent’ and the Court was left with little confidence in the quality of police investigations into sudden deaths.

 

what is a coronial inquest in adelaide

 

The inquest related to the death of a 43 year old man at a GP’s medical practice in Hindley Street.  The man, in company with two others, had taken heroin on the premises and his death was the result of a lethal dose of the drug.  The deceased man had been a patient at the medical practice and the others involved were the doctor’s daughter (who also worked in the medical practice) and another patient.  The Court concluded that the daughter had met the two men through her work as a receptionist at the practice.

The case demonstrates the types of evidence that are available to assist the Court to investigate the circumstances of a sudden death.  CCTV video footage from outside a nearby hotel showed the three associating at that location earlier in the evening.  They could then be observed leaving to walk together to the medical practice which was only a two minute walk away.

What We Know Happened

The doctor’s daughter gave evidence that they went into a treatment room at the medical practice where heroin syringes were prepared and she was the first to be injected.  The deceased was then injected and the other male might then have attempted to inject himself.  Around this time the doctor entered the treatment room and a triple zero call was made.

The other male didn’t give evidence because he died as a result of unrelated circumstances before the hearing.  He had given three differing statements to police of what happened on the night and the Court concluded that the evidence supported the daughter’s claim that it was he who had obtained and supplied the heroin earlier in the evening.

The doctor came into the room after the heroin had been administered and so he could not provide any assistance as to what happened when that occurred.  Through her barrister, the daughter conceded that on the evening she had made an inexcusable error of judgment both professionally and personally.  She was the ‘conduit ‘for access to the clinic and provided access to paraphernalia that could be used to administer the heroin.  The Court found her to be a credible witness and accepted her version of what happened in the room when the heroin was administered.  Neither she nor the deceased had contemplated using heroin that night but they made a spontaneous decision to do so when it was suggested by the other male, which was no doubt influenced by the fact that they had been drinking.

The Court accepted that the evidence supported the proposition that the deceased man had voluntarily consumed the heroin.  The other man had administered the heroin to the woman, and her last recollection before passing out was that he was turning towards the deceased apparently to inject him.  At that point there were still two syringes that had been prepared.

The Police Investigation

In one of the three different accounts that the other man gave to police of what occurred that night, he claimed that he tried to inject himself in a toilet outside the premises.  Only one piece of drug paraphernalia was seized by police at the surgery, being a syringe that was found on the outside toilet floor.  That syringe was never analysed by police so there was no way to determine if it was a syringe used by that man.

None of the witnesses, including the police and the doctor, saw any drug paraphernalia in the room.  It was accepted that the man likely ‘swept’ the room before the doctor entered.  He was later found by police to be in possession of the deceased man’s mobile phone which suggested that he had time to search the man’s body.  In fact the position of his body when the doctor entered the room did not appear to be consistent with a sudden collapse but instead it appeared as though he had been ‘laid out’ on the floor.

The doctor entered the room when the other man called out ‘heroin, heroin’.  When he entered the other man was leaving the room and the doctor chose to treat his daughter as the male appeared to be dead.  The other man came back into the room and the doctor enlisted him to perform CPR on the deceased.  After less than a minute the man left the room again and so the doctor started CPR on the male who had overdosed.  The other man returned again to the room and was directed by the doctor to perform CPR which he apparently did until paramedics arrived.

The Court concluded that the other man had disposed of all the drug paraphernalia.

The Court commented that the police investigation into the matter ‘left a lot to be desired’.  No proper search was conducted of the surgery.  Given the unusual circumstances of the case, involving a heroin overdose in a doctor’s surgery, it would have been expected that a very thorough search would have been conducted by police to find any evidence of drug paraphernalia, but that just did not happen.  There were a number of rubbish bins in the street outside and no effort was made to search them.  The Court observed, “There was no coordination amongst the various officers who attended that night and although statements were taken, physical evidence was not diligently pursued.”  The only item found wasn’t analysed by police.

Potential Suspect Allowed to Wander Around the Crime Scene

It appeared that the police only discovered that the other man had the deceased’s phone by accident. Two hours after the triple zero call, the woman complained that her phone was missing and so one police officer returned to the scene to try to find it.  That officer thought it might be useful to call the deceased’s phone, and it was only then that it was realised that it was in the other man’s possession.  As the Court stated, “It beggars belief that [the other man] was allowed to maintain possession of the telephone for almost two hours after the arrival of police at the scene.”  There were probable grounds to arrest and search the man and the fact that he was permitted to ‘wander around the scene’ for some two hours after the police arrived was something for which no explanation was given.

It seemed that the police just assumed that a drug overdose had occurred and no more serious criminality was involved than the provision of a controlled drug.  No thought was given to whether a murder might have been committed.  The Court said, “It goes without saying that unless police carry out [their] task diligently and thoroughly, the quality of the coronial investigation is inevitably compromised,” and, “The fact that in 2016 it is possible for a coronial investigation to be conducted in such a slapdash and incompetent manner leaves me with little confidence in the overall quality of coronial investigations by police.”

In the end, all that the Court could determine was that the man died as a result of a heroin overdose but more information about the cause and circumstances of that overdose could have been available if a proper investigation had been carried out.

When a sudden and unexpected death occurs very often the family of the deceased have questions.  What happened?  Why did it happen?  Could it have been avoided?  While it isn’t necessary for families to be legally represented at a Coronial Inquest, where action might be taken against a person or organisation responsible for the death this should be considered.  Questions can be put to that party during the course of the hearing to assist in determining whether there is a cause of action and to narrow the issues that might otherwise be in dispute in subsequent civil proceedings.

Websters Lawyers have solicitors experienced in assisting with Coronial Inquests in Adelaide and they can advise about the costs involved and whether legal funding is available.  A free consultation can be arranged through our contact page.

Re L.A. Pike

http://www.courts.sa.gov.au/CoronersFindings/Lists/Coroners%20Findings/Attachments/798/PIKE%20Lucas%20Adam.pdf

FREE FIRST INTERVIEW

NO WIN NO FEE

LOCAL LAWYERS FOR LOCAL NEEDS

GET THE RIGHT LAWYER FIRST

call now

Testimonials

Having such a short time frame I was very impressed with the outcome made by [my solicitor]. Excellent and timely manner

Sebastian

Kurralta Park

Very professional mannerism and overall great outcome was delivered by Websters Lawyers.

Nicholas

West Ryde NSW

Helpful, explained fully, patient, excellent service.

Kerry

Ridgehaven

Patient and helpful in explaining the process.

Brian

Ridgehaven

Call Websters Lawyers for a most professional and friendly service. All understanding with [my solicitors] and the reception staff. Thank you so much.

Christine

Magill

Making my will was effortless on my part, with everything explained clearly. Well done to all.

Christina

Highbury

Great service, professional, explains things clearly, definitely recommend Websters Lawyers.

Garth

Upper Hermitage

Patient, professional, good communication about procedures and probable outcomes.

Jeffrey

Brompton

Thank you for all your work over the course of the case. You [both] were always very approachable and I appreciated your understanding and professionalism in all areas.

Alexis

Christie Downs

All in all my experience was great. Thank you for your time and expertise.

Christina

Seacombe Gardens

My matter was dealt with efficiently and was explained in an understandable language. A pleasant experience.

Mary

Ridgehaven

Practical and very helpful. Reasons and explanations given where needed

John

Ridgehaven

I stumbled across Websters in the Yellow Pages and I rang, explained my situation and immediately they took my case on. Greatly appreciate their services.

Diane 

Ridgehaven

The service from Websters Lawyers was outstanding. [My solicitor] was caring, had patience and was very professional. Wonderful personality.

Julie

Yorketown

[My solicitor] made everything so simple to understand. [The receptionist] was wicked too, would recommend them anytime. Level of entire service was outstanding.

Craig

Golden Grove

 

I had dealings with Websters over 20 years ago. They were my first choice when I recently needed legal advice. Both legal and office staff were professional, courteous and accessible at all times. Everything was explained up front in a clear and concise manner. I would not hesitate to recommend their services.

Rod

Dernancourt

It has truly been a pleasure communicating with you throughout the process. I really appreciate your patient and speedy replies to my questions and requests. You were always able to provide an easily understood response and this helped me deal with the process. Your friendly and positive manner encouraged me to seek your advice.

Kathleen

Battery Hill QLD

[My lawyer's] service was prompt and efficient with all questions explained clearly with all our requests carried out within the laws. Overall service was very satisfactory.

John

Wynn Vale

[My lawyer] was excellent. 

Gordon

Glengowrie

Excellent service. Professional. Clear advice and instructions. Prompt actions. Overall 10/10!

Phillip

Ingle Farm

Overall, I was happy with my outcome and my lawyer, would definitely recommend [my lawyer].

Janet

Adelaide

[My solicitor] was excellent at helping us through preparing our wills which were particularly challenging as they involved assets in multiple countries. She was professional and knowledgeable and spent time tailoring the wills to our needs.

Jonathan

Greenwith

[My solicitor] was very helpful, respectful and polite. She made sure I understood the process and documentation of our wills.

Rachel

Greenwith

Professional. Smooth Transaction. 

Luke

Largs North

I found the whole experience from Receptionist to Solicitor excellent. They completely put us at our ease.

Ethel

Smithfield

This was a new experience for us and didn’t have a clue what to do. [Our solicitor] on our first visit put us at ease, explained what will happen, pointed out there was a strong case. [Our solicitor] was genuine in her approach, kept us well informed, explained actions several times with patience and understanding. Overall very happy with the service we received.

Stephen

Elizabeth Vale

[My lawyer] was very reassuring in her approach to my case. I felt that every possibility in terms of evidence to provide and possible outcomes were explained to me, The result of the case was the best possible outcome I could have expected.

David, Belair

 

With no previous dealing with the criminal justice system, [our solicitor] gave us excellent advice and guided us through a nightmare to achieve a just and correct outcome. [Our lawyer] was both forthright and compassionate in her handling of our case.

Malcolm, Belair

[My lawyer] explained all the legal terms in language I could understand – she was very easy to talk to.

Cameron, Munno Para

I felt confident knowing my matter was in good hands. Very professional!

Shravan, Christie Downs

Initial phone call was fantastic and the role of an executor was fully explained.

Penny, Henley Beach

The service I received was efficient and promptly finalised. The solicitor clearly explained the details and I was happy with how easy it was.

Dale, Fairview Park

[My lawyer] was exactly the lawyer I needed in a serious matter. The outcome was as predicted which was a fantastic result. I received prompt professional and personal service at all times. Capable and supportive in a very stressful period.

Jason, Munno Para West

I had any of my concerns answered to my satisfaction and understanding.

Valda, Ingle Farm

[My lawyer] is an excellent professional lawyer who assisted in achieving a great positive outcome/result. I sincerely thank you and your great staff for your assistance and guidance throughout my claim. Would highly recommend [my lawyer], staff and Websters Lawyers. Kept fully informed and guided, professionally throughout the matter.

Rena, Northgate

Our work was dealt with very efficiently and speedily. Our lawyer was very professional, at the same time as being approachable. Communication was great.

Christina, Highbury

My experience with Websters Lawyers was far beyond what I expected. From the moment I spoke to [my lawyer] she made me feel very comfortable and eased my stress. In my case I had a court appearance the day before we were scheduled to fly to Spain, Considering my first appointment with her was only 2 weeks before the court hearing, she was able to obtain the police statement and thoroughly work on my case within that limited time frame. She was very knowledgeable, understanding and confident which greatly relieved so much pressure from me and my family. At court, she explained everything thoroughly and advised me of all the possible outcomes. Price, service and result, very highly recommended. Thank you Websters Lawyers.

Rafael, Davoren Park

I have high expectations and they were met. Websters service was swift, courteous, professional and met the agreed budget. I will recommend Websters to my family, friends and colleagues. Thank you.

Peter, Forestville

I would recommend Websters Lawyers, especially for [my lawyer's] dedication and exemplary attitude and advice. She is the epitome of a good lawyer. The service was impeccable.

Pamela, West Lakes

[My lawyer] was very professional and I was made comfortable to understand.

Gregory, Penfield

I was very pleased with the end result and how well [my lawyer] conducted herself.

Sonya, Glanville

Very professional.

Jesse, Morphett Vale

[My lawyer] has been very prompt , reliable and provided a high level of communication.

Peter, Parkside

My experience at Websters was very positive. The stress was taken from me and I could not be happier with the outcome. [My lawyer] at Websters was professional, personable, available and caring. Thank you for making the experience stress free.

Magda, Holden Hill

Found my lawyer upfront and reliable – I would highly recommend Websters Lawyers.

Lee, Evanston Park

 

Top bunch of solicitors and admin staff. Very friendly and to the point service.

Bradley, Hallett Cove

Websters Lawyers were very professional in their service, I would be happy to recommend them.

Carole, Tea Tree Gully

We would not hesitate in recommending Websters for any legal matter. They are professional and courteous at all times and call back when they say they will.

David and Dianne, Lockleys

 

I fully recommend Websters Lawyers. This was the 3rd time myself & my family have used Websters Lawyers. In these stressful times we have found them to answer and guide us through the process needed to accomplish the legal requirements in a timely and courteous manner.

Dianne, Lynton

Solid, to the point, no hustle. Highly recommend.

George, Windsor Gardens

Contact us

Adelaide Office :
T: ( 08 ) 8231 1363
F: ( 08 ) 8231 5529

Ridgehaven Office :
T: ( 08 ) 8395 8000
F: ( 08 ) 8395 8222

Smithfield Office :
T: ( 08 ) 8487 0150
F: ( 08 ) 8395 8222

© Copyright WebstersLawyers.com 2017 All Rights Reserved
Website By A to Z Marketing