New pain for Dreamworld disaster victims’ families
FAMILIES of the Dreamworld disaster victims are facing more pain, with an administrative bungle further delaying completion of the inquest into the tragedy.
The grieving families are still waiting for answers, more than three years after the October 2016 Thunder River Rapids ride tragedy which claimed the lives of tourists Cindy Low, Kate Goodchild, her brother Luke Dorsett and his partner Roozbeh Araghi.
Public hearings wrapped up last December and findings had been expected earlier this year. But the inquest has already been hit by lengthy delays which have also impacted on other high-profile cases in the chronically under-resourced Coroners Court.
Now, The Courier-Mail can reveal that an administrative error is likely to push the Dreamworld findings back even further, possibly to the middle of next year.
The Dreamworld inquest had been bogged down by lengthy delays including a lag in counsel assisting the Coroner, James McDougall, providing final submissions.
But it is understood some of the parties involved in the case were left off an email list containing the final submissions and have had to scramble to make their responses.
Sources say the bungle will further delay the inquest and Mr McDougall will likely not hand down his findings until early to mid next year. The latest setback will prolong the anguish for the victims' families and also delay possible prosecutions and recommendations to improve theme park safety.
A lawyer acting for one of the families said the continued delays were adding to the grief.
"It's a crying shame," they said. "The families just want it over with."
In a statement, a spokesman for the coroner said the case was still 'progressing'.
"This matter is complex," the statement said.
"While we are unable to provide a date for the findings at this stage, all efforts are being made to ensure this will occur as soon as possible."
A damning Queensland Audit Office report handed down late last year found the state's coronial system was 'under stress', with 'excessive delays' and a declining clearance rate leading to a growing backlog of coronial investigations.
Auditor-General Brendan Worrall found that coronial cases in Queensland that were 24 months or older had blown out from 7 per cent in 2011-12 to 16 per cent 2017-18.
"Excessive delays and a declining clearance rate reflect a coronial system that is underperforming," he found.