Coroner's Court of Western Australia

Inquest into the Death of Paul Gregory CLIFTON

Inquest into the Death of Paul Gregory CLIFTON

Delivered on : 23 October 2015

Delivered at : Perth

Finding of : Coroner Linton

Recommendations : Yes

I recommend that the Department of Transport give strong consideration in its review of recreational vessel safety requirements to mandating the wearing of lifejackets by persons over 12 months old on recreational vessels in Western Australia, when such a vessel is in unprotected waters.

Orders/Rules : N/A

Suppression Order : N/A

Summary : The deceased was with his brother and two friends in Ledge Point for a weekend of fishing and relaxation.  The deceased was an experienced fisherman who had been out on boats many times.

The issues which were explored at the inquest hearing were the sinking of the boat and what happened thereafter, as well as whether anything that could be learnt from the incident to improve recreational marine safety in general.

The Coroner heard evidence that the deceased was a conscientious boat owner, who actively maintained his boat.  He also conducted a safety check on the morning of the ill-fated fishing trip.  The Coroner concluded that this would suggest that something happened to the boat when it was launched or afterwards when the boat was in the water, although witnesses on the boat did not recall hearing any loud noise or see any event that could have provided an explanation.  The Coroner was unable to reach any conclusion as to why the boat began taking on water before it sank.

The Coroner noted a considerable amount of water entered the vessel by some means and when the motor was turned on and the boat moved forward, the water rushed to the rear, causing the boat to upend and quickly sink.  The speed of events made it difficult for the men to take action to alert someone to their plight or to activate and utilise safety equipment before they were immersed in the cold water.  This raised issues as to what safety features are recommended and/ or mandated for boats and their users and whether these can be improved.

The safety features which the Coroner examined at the inquest hearing were life jackets and EPIRBs.  In respect to the wearing of life jackets the Coroner made a general recommendation that the Department give strong consideration in its review to mandating the wearing of lifejackets on boats in Western Australia whenever a vessel is in unprotected waters.  The wearing of high visibility vests and safety checks of secondhand recreational boats were also considered.

The Coroner found that the deceased died on 2 June 2013 at Lancelin Jetty, Lancelin as a result of complications arising from immersion (drowning) and death arose by way of accident.

Catch Words : Safety Equipment on Recreational Vessels : Training : Accident.

Last updated: 19-Apr-2024

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