Coroner's Court of Western Australia

Inquest into the Death of Janice Ann CROFT

Inquest into the Death of Janice Ann CROFT


Delivered on : 11 May 2021

Delivered at : Perth

Finding of : Coroner Urquhart

Recommendations : Yes

When granting a loan that is secured by the mortgagor’s residential property, the financial institution should consider providing the mortgagor the option of monitoring a third party who the financial institution is to contact, with authority to disclose to the third party any relevant confidential information regarding the loan, prior to commencing any legal proceedings to take possession of the mortgaged property.

Orders/Rules : N/A

Suppression Order : Yes

  1. There be no reporting or publication of the name, picture or any other identifying features of Tactical Operator 17, Tactical Operator 22, Tactical Operator 34, Tactical Operator 40, Tactical Operator 90 and Tactical Operator 92.
  2. There be no reporting or publication of any details about the decision-making criteria, response times, resourcing, training or any other operational aspects of the Western Australian Police Force’s Tactical Response Group.
  3. There be no reporting or publication of the methodologies, response times, or resourcing of the Western Australian Police Force’s Tactical Response Group Negotiators Unit.

Summary : Ms Janice Croft died on 21 January 2019 at Royal Perth Hospital of phosphine toxicity after deliberately ingesting highly toxic fumigation pellets.  She was 64 years old.

Mrs Croft and her husband had lived in their home for nearly 30 years but were struggling to meet their financial obligations regarding a large loan they had obtained in 2015.  Following a default on this loan, Permanent Custodians Ltd filed a writ in the Supreme Court against Mr and Ms Croft, and the writ was served on them in October 2017.  On 23 August 2018, a Property (Seizure and Delivery) Order was issued by the Supreme Court authorising the Sheriff of WA to enter the property, with force if necessary, and evict persons not entitled to be there, and then take possession of the property and deliver it into the judgment beneficiary’s possession.  That eviction was initially scheduled for 21 September 2019 but was rescheduled at the request of Permanent Custodians Ltd to take place on Monday 21 January 2019 at 9.00 am.

As there had been an altercation between Mr Croft and another Deputy Sheriff on 2 January 2019 arrangements were made for police to be in attendance.  On the morning of 21 January 2019 when the Deputy Sheriff and police officers attended the property at 9.00 am, Mr Croft had already manoeuvred a small tractor behind the locked front gates and indicated that he would resist any attempt by the authorities to gain entry to the property.  Mr Croft advised the attending police officers that Ms Croft would kill herself with cyanide if they entered the property.  Given the threats made by Mr Croft and the location of a modified firearm on the tractor’s bonnet which was within Mr Croft’s reach, the decision was made by the police officers to withdraw and contact the TRG.

TRG officers attended and negotiations began with Mr and Ms Croft.  After a lengthy time and with negotiations having exhausted all reasonable attempts to have Mr and Ms Croft leave the property voluntarily, the TRG put in place a plan to covertly enter the property and apprehend Mr and Ms Croft.  The plan was implemented at about 2.12 pm.  As Ms Croft was about to be apprehended by TRG officers she began ingesting fumigation pellets from a container she was holding.  Attempts were immediately made to remove any pellet residue from Ms Croft’s mouth before she was treated by paramedics.

The Coroner concluded that he was satisfied that the actions of the TRG operators in their apprehension of Mr and Ms Croft were appropriate.

The Coroner found Ms Croft died by way of suicide.

Catch Words : Financial Difficulties : TRG Negotiation process : Implementation of a Deliberate Action Plan : Mental Health : Suicide

Last updated: 21-May-2021

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