Coroner probes five cases where killers were under court orders

Coroner probes five cases where killers were under court orders

November 12, 2020

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The Coroners Court is investigating the cases of five people who died when their killers were under court orders.

Deputy State Coroner Caitlin English is considering similarities across the five cases as part of the inquest into the death of Port Fairy woman Kylie Cay.

Kylie Cay, pictured with her sons.

Ms Cay survived her partner's sustained assault with a hammer in June 2016 by crawling out of her house and hiding in a dog kennel in the backyard.

Three days later, after she had been discharged from hospital, she suffered a ruptured spleen and died on her bathroom floor.

Ms Cay's boyfriend, Justin Garry Turner, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Turner was the subject of an intervention order and was also on a community corrections order for family violence offences when he killed Ms Cay.

Counsel assisting the coroner Rishi Nathwani told the court on Monday the inquest would consider similarities between five cases to ascertain any systemic issues within Corrections Victoria.

"Unhappily, the Coroners Court has other open investigations before it where those [who were] the subject of Corrections involvement have killed despite being in breach of their orders, not dissimilar to Mr Turner in this matter," he said.

Community corrections orders, sanctioned by the courts, enable offenders to serve their sentences in the community. Conditions such as mandatory drug or alcohol rehabilitation and regular meetings with Corrections Victoria officers are often required.

The other four deaths being investigated are of:

  • Six-month-old Chayse Dearing, who was murdered by his mother’s boyfriend in an ice-fuelled attack at a Glenroy home in 2016.
  • Simone Quinlan, who was murdered by her boyfriend and dumped in a mineshaft near Bendigo in 2015.
  • Matthew Johnston, who was stabbed by his female partner in a manslaughter case in Kangaroo Flat, near Bendigo, on Christmas Eve in 2016.
  • The case of another man. Little is publicly known about this case and more details have been sought from the court.

The coroner is considering similarities with the murder of Simone Quinlan.

The inquest into Ms Cay's death is also investigating the medical care she received, particularly the cancellation of an ambulance in response to her triple zero call when she was experiencing pain after she was discharged from hospital.

An Ambulance Victoria clinician downgraded the call from a code one to a non-urgent code three, resulting in cancellation of an ambulance and a referral to a trained paramedic for a phone call within half an hour to find out more.

At that time, in the early hours of June 21, an ambulance was about 700 metres away, the court heard.

The triple zero operator noted Ms Cay was experiencing difficulty breathing, had broken ribs, had suffered a domestic violence assault and had recently been to hospital.

The clinician who reviewed the call, Daniel Staff, told the inquest that difficulty breathing was a common symptom for a patient with broken ribs.

Ms Cay was awake and alert and had been to hospital so recently that Mr Staff believed any life-threatening injuries had been managed.

Mr Staff said it was mandatory to downgrade the call in order to trigger a referral.

He said there were no requirements at the time for him to speak directly to Ms Cay, and he relied on the triple zero operator's notes.

"What we're attempting to do by performing secondary triage is to fine-tune that diagnosis," Mr Staff said.

The paramedic who then spoke to Ms Cay concluded she needed to see a doctor within four hours.

"During that call, Kylie indicated she had not means of getting to Warrnambool Hospital. She did not have any money," Mr Nathwani said.

She was asked if she wanted a taxi called, but the call was hung up on her end. No attempts were made to call her again.

Ms Cay asked her boyfriend's mother to call a taxi, "but she was unable to as she believed there were none on duty in Port Fairy", Mr Nathwani said.

A ruptured spleen, the court heard on Monday, is associated with a significant mortality rate.

Ms Cay was found by her teenage son and her mother, who had driven to Port Fairy when they had not heard from her. The inquest continues.

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