16 September 2019

Victoria Police are accused of sabotaging the inquest into the death of Tanya Day, by sending an underprepared witness to frustrate the coroner’s efforts: “‘This witness was asked at my direction to come to court,’ [coroner Caitlin] English said, interrupting a painful cross-examination from Peter Morrissey SC who was trying, at the instruction of Day’s family, to get some responses from police to the failures that led to their mother’s death. ‘Unfortunately she’s not able to cover quite a lot of the territory that I was hoping for.’ Morrissey was indignant. ‘The witness has been put here specifically because she doesn’t know,’ he said. Earlier he said the witness, superintendent Sussan Thomas, had been appointed as a ‘decoy’. It was not Thomas’s fault, he said. Thomas, who was in charge of the Aboriginal and youth portfolios in Victoria Police’s priority communities division, had been dumped in it. … The first coronial directions hearing was heard [on 6 December 2018]. Lawyers for Ms Day’s family had been requesting Victoria Police nominate a senior person to give evidence on policies, procedures and training for six months. The inquest itself began three weeks ago. Yet Thomas was only notified two days before the inquest was scheduled to conclude. Her 14-page statement was only received at 9.51am on Friday, the final day.”