Inquest into the Death of Lincoln Arthur CAMPBELL

Inquest into the Disappearance and Death of Lincoln Arthur CAMPBELL

Delivered on :  July 2023

Delivered at : Perth

Finding of : Deputy State Coroner Linton

Recommendations : N/A

Orders/Rules : N/A

Suppression Order : N/A

Summary : Lincoln Campbell was a 52 year old Aboriginal man who lived all of his life in the Kimberley. Mr Campbell was last seen alive in the early hours of the morning of 24 December 2005 by nursing staff at Kununurra District Hospital. Mr Campbell was a patient at the hospital, where he was receiving end of life care for terminal throat cancer.

Nurses became concerned when they had not see Mr Campbell after 4.00 am on the morning of Christmas Eve. Mr Campbell often slept in the hospital courtyard as he preferred to be outside, and he would often go for a walk into town during the day. However, he would normally at least remain within the precincts of the hospital overnight. On this day, Mr Campbell reportedly became agitated and wanted to go outside before the daylight, when the hospital doors were opened. It appears he used the kitchen access door to get out into the hospital carpark and it is not known where he went from there. Some of Mr Campbell’s clothes and medical equipment were found in bush near the hospital a few days later, but it was unclear if the items had been left there recently or at an earlier time.

The hospital staff had informed police on the morning of 24 December 2005 that Mr Campbell was last seen inside the hospital at 4.00 am. Police kept a lookout for him that day, and some family members who had come to collect him from hospital and take him out to Wyndham also looked for him around the town. When Mr Campbell had not been located by that evening, a nurse from the hospital made a formal missing person report to police that evening. The nurse told police that without medical care, Mr Campbell was unlikely to survive more than 24 to 48 hours. He received all nutrituion through a PEG tub and was very frail. A search commenced around the hospital surrounds, which ceased at midnight, then recommenced the following day. Local SES staff assisted the local police with the search, but no sign of Mr Campbell was found that day. The search continued for two more days, including an aerial search using a helicopter, but the only sign of Mr Campbell were the clothes and medical equipment found in the bush a few days later.

Police were told by witnesses that Mr Campbell had mentioned wanting to die outside the hospital, either at a local Aboriginal Community he referred to as ‘Doon Doon’ or in Halls Creek. Police made enquiries but Mr Campbell had not been seen in either location.  A report of a witness that Mr Campbell had been seen in a vehicle heading out to Doon Doon was investigated and determined to be unfounded. Police spoke to family members, who suggested Mr Campbell may have left the hospital to go somewhere peaceful on the land to die. He had acknowledged that he only had at most a week to live and had been telling nursing staff that he wanted to give away his small store of cash to charity.

It was the opinion of the investigating police that Mr Campbell died on or about the time he disappeared, likely as a result of his terminal illness, given his frail state of health.

The Coroner was satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that Mr Campbell is deceased and he died in relative proximity to the time of his disappearance. The Coroner was satisfied on the balance of probabilities that Mr Campbell died from terminal throat cancer and that his death was due to natural causes.

Catch Words : Long Term Missing Person : Terminal Illness : Kununurra District Hospital : Land Search : Natural Causes

Last updated: 19-Sep-2023

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