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Byron Shire
June 18, 2024

Coronial inquest becomes a matter for the DPP

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Lore Solaris leaves Byron Bay Courthouse, covering his face. Photo David Lowe.

The coronial inquest examining the death of Jarrad Antonovich was abruptly concluded late last week, as the case against the key figure involved was referred to the Department of Public Prosecutions by Coroner Teresa O’Sullivan.

As a result, the long-running inquest never heard testimony from either Lore Solaris (the chief facilitator/shaman of the event where Mr Antonovich died in October 2021), or Cameron Kite, who applied the kambo on the day in question.

Last Friday at Byron Bay Courthouse, those present heard the legal reasons for and against referral of the case to the DPP put eloquently by counsel representing each side, Dr Peggy Dwyer SC and Alex Radojev, but under Section 76 of the Coroner’s Act, we are not permitted to report what was said, for fear of influencing any future trial.

Lore Solaris and Cameron Kite left the proceedings separately, and alone.

Mr Kite and the lawyers involved chose not to speak to The Echo, and the family of Mr Antonovich asked not to be photographed, although they did share their feelings as the inquest concluded.

Cameron Kite leaves Byron Bay Courthouse as family confer with police. Photo David Lowe.


Jarrad’s father Glen Antonovich said the family had ‘definitely received the result that they were hoping for’, and it was a pity that Jarrad’s mother Lorraine could not be in court to hear it firsthand (she had to remain at home in Victoria following a recent ankle injury).

‘We just hope that these these practices don’t continue, and other families can learn from this, and not go through what we’ve gone through since October 2021,’ said Mr Antonovich.

The family wanted to thank Detective Sergeant Mick Martin and Senior Constable Doug Lack for their ‘relentless pursuit’, as well as counsel assisting the coroner, Dr Peggy Dwyer and solicitor Maclaren Wall.

Of the NSW police, Jarrad’s father said ‘these two guys have just been absolutely magnificent.’

Mr Antonovich also said the fact that the key players had continued to hold ceremonies after his son’s death, involving drugs that were illegal in Australia, showed that ‘lessons haven’t been learned by those involved. These people are basically true believers, which means there are devotees and supplicants.

‘The bottom line to me is – it’s a cult. Basically it’s a manipulation of people’s mindsets.’

Mr Antonovich agreed that the semi-religious and quasi-medical underpinnings of the ayahuasca/kambo community complicated the situation, but said the key word that came to his mind was ‘tawdry’, saying his son had come under the influence of a hierarchy led by Solaris, who was ‘holding himself out to be the messiah’.

Remembering Jarrad

Throughout the inquest, everyone who had anything to do with Jarrad Antonovich, or ‘Ish’ as we was known by many, spoke about him in the most positive terms.

The Echo asked Glen Antonovich how he hoped people would remember his son.

‘Jarrad was just a gentle soul. Never aggressive at all. Very, very gentle. He would always step away from a fight or an argument.’

Jarrad Antonovich. Photo supplied.

What would you say to the parents of other young people who are going down Jarrad’s path?

‘Talk to them, find out what they’re doing. Please, talk to them,’ Mr Antonovich said. ‘Don’t let them get sucked in by social media. One size doesn’t fit all, that’s for sure.’

Jarrad’s brother Chris told The Echo the completion of the inquest was a ‘relief’, with potential criminal charges now pending. ‘Given what we’ve heard in the brief of evidence that was presented, the gentleman in question was not going to stop on his own volition.

‘Hopefully we can get a result where no one else is put in such a position; that they could lose their lives in such a terrible, tragic manner.’

Chris Antonovich remembered his brother as an ‘absolute sweetheart’. He said many of Jarrad’s close friends that he’d grown up with in Victoria had kept a close eye on the inquest proceedings on the Northern Rivers.

‘No one ever had a bad word to say about him. He had a heart of gold. Brilliant guitarist, devout grandson, devout son to his mother and father, and a great brother.

‘Like I stated in my eulogy, at his funeral that day, he was my hero. I tried to emulate him in so many ways. That’s the main thing. And I think those who met him in person would reiterate the same.’

Chris Antonovich said that while the inquest process had been ‘very gruelling’ for the family, especially his mother, and almost too much to bear at times, there was relief from everyone that the case was progressing to potential criminal charges, with the potential of some sort of closure.

‘It’s also been cathartic, and better than just having Jarrad’s story disappear in the wind and be buried.’

The Department of Public Prosecutions now has up to six months to decide whether to proceed with the case against Lore Solaris.

You can read more about the inquest here.

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