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Byron Shire
May 15, 2021

Island Quarry death inquest winds up amid complaints

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By Jim Beatson

The inquest into the death of 20-year- old Melbourne man, Brendan Vickery, ended yesterday with a number of unresolved disputes, and complaints of delays raised by the deceased’s family and their legal counsel.

Seven are ofcritical importance.

First, the family legal counsel queried the tardiness of Island Quarry Reserve Trust to take precautionary measures such as fencing and signage.

In November 2011 by Dr Robert Davies, network director for emergency departments at four hospital sites across the Northern Rivers reported nine serious injuries including six spinal fractures, at least four were multiple
fractures.

Some two and half years passed before the 1.8 m safety fence was constructed along the Ewingsdale Road side of the dangerous quarry site. This was completed just three weeks after Brendan Vickery’s death.

The Island Quarry Reserve Trust’s Barrister, Mr Raeburn, insisted that the delay was outside the control of the IQ Quarry Trust President, Shane Rennie.

A discussion about the lack of more safety signage was left incomplete.

Medical staff mentioned an important deterrent: signs explicitly listing known injuries that occurred at the site.

A counter argument was put by several interviewees that such signs would instead be seen as an exciting challenge by young people visiting the site.

Supervision of the site was revealed to be irregular. Baz Laow, a self-described “WOOFA”, was given the role by Shane Rennie. Laow did not live at the site and was there only on average two days a week (Wednesdays and Thursdays).

He was not there on weekends, when the numbers of visitors in Byron Bay are often high.
The cause of death remains unverified. The pathologist, Dr Brian Beer performed the external examination on the body and said he based his decision, of “death by drowning on the balance of probability”.

Barrister David Evenden, representing Brendan Vickery’s parents, challenged this pathology report, saying without a full autopsy, medical experience alone would suggest possible additional causes.

Despite a request by Brendan’s mother, Tracie McDew, for a full autopsy, her request was never passed on beyond the police officer in charge of the investigation. Such requests are normally respected.

The Coroner, Teresa O’Sullivan, Acting State Coroner will deliver her report at the Glebe Coroner’s Court in Sydney on 11 April 2018.


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1 COMMENT

  1. When The “Island Quarry” was the transfer station for the Myocum tip many years ago, I was shown the site. The man who ran the transfer station told me to come and have a look as hardly anyone knew about ti then. I was amazed how beautiful and inviting it looked. But he told me to never go swimming it in because it is full of big metal rubbish like car bodies. And because it was very deep I wonder if who ever cleaned it up got all that metal rubbish out of it.

    It was enough warning for me to stay away from it. Maybe that is why I am not surprised by the accidents and now death. Sad really, as it looks so inviting!

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