Coroner's Court of Western Australia

Inquest into the Death of Matthew James WORTHINGTON

Inquest into the Death of Matthew James WORTHINGTON

Delivered on :  14 July 2023

Delivered at : Perth

Finding of : Deputy State Coroner Linton


I recommend the WAPF give priority to funding a third, additional, permanent member of the Negotiators Unit to ensure continuity of staff and consistency of training and support for the negotiators, so that they can continue to perform their important work to the best of their ability.

Orders/Rules : N/A

Suppression Order :

On the basis that it would be contrary to the public interest, I make an order under s 49(1)(b) of the Coroners Act 1996 (WA) that:

  • there be no reporting or publication of the name, picture, or any other identifying features of the witness referred to as Operator 116;
  • there be no reporting or publication of the details about the decision-making criteria, response times, resourcing, guidelines, policies and any other operational aspects of the Western Australia Police Force Tactical Response Group (WAPF TRG) and the WAPF Negotiators Unit; and
  • There be no reporting or publication of the methodologies of the WAPF TRG and the WAPF Negotiators Unit.

Summary : On 21 November 2020, Matthew Worthington went to his ex-partner’s workplace and threatened her with a firearm. She reported the incident to police and Matthew was tracked by police to his home in Hardy Road, Bayswater. The area was cordoned off and after a period of time, TRG officers attempted to enter the house. Matthew fired at the TRG officers, so they retreated to a safe position without returning fire. A police siege situation then commenced, with WAPF negotiators attempting to convince Matthew to come out of the house and give himself up. After several hours had elapsed, there was a belief that the negotiations were progressing well, and that Matthew was contemplating coming out and the situation could resolve peacefully. However, while still speaking to a negotiator, Matthew unexpectedly shot himself in the head, causing his death.

An inquest was held on 18 to 18 April 2023 to determine whether there was any evidence to suggest the WA Police could be said to have caused or contributed to Mr Worthington’s death. The evidence from the police involved was to the effect that all efforts were made to resolve the matter peacefully, and no pressure had been put on Matthew to bring the matter to a quick resolution. At the time of his death, he was speaking to a very experienced negotiator and all other police officers had removed themselves from the house, so Matthew would not have felt any direct threat from police. He had expressed a fear that if he came out of the house, he would be shot by police in retaliation for shooting at them earlier, which reinforced the idea that Matthew wanted to come out of the incident safely and was not contemplating self-harm. It later emerged that he had given some indication to family members that he might harm himself, although the police were unaware of this at the time. Matthew did not make any statements to the police to give them any forewarning of what he was going to do, and the first notice they had of his intention to hurt himself was when they heard the shot that took his life.

A Homicide Squad and Internal Affairs Unit investigation found no evidence of any police officers, or other person, being directly involved in Matthew’s death and there was no evidence to suggest any police officers breached any policies or guidelines during the incident. The negotiators involved had reflected on the incident and had not identified any areas where they might have been able to do things differently to prevent Matthew’s death.

The Deputy State Coroner found that the death occurred by way of suicide and the police officers involved did not cause or contributed to the death.

A recommendation was made in relation to further resources for the Negotiators Unit, to ensure they continue to provide a high level of support and training for the negotiators.

Catch Words : Firearm : Suicide : Police Seige : TRG Negotiator

Last updated: 2-Oct-2023

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