Coroner's Court of Western Australia

Inquest into the Death of Reef Jason Bruce KITE

Inquest into the Death of Reef Jason Bruce KITE

Delivered on : 24 November 2017

Delivered at : Perth

Finding of : Coroner Linton

Recommendations :Yes

I recommend that the State government give consideration to amending the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 to ensure that a residential tenancy agreement cannot preclude a tenant from affixing a fixture, if the fixture relates to anchoring a television or item of furniture to a wall for the purposes of child safety. Rather, the Act should provide that for those specific fixtures, such an item may be affixed with the lessor’s consent (and the lessor shall not unreasonably withhold such consent).

Orders/Rules : N/A

Suppression Order : N/A

Summary : The deceased died on 13 October 2015 at Princess Margaret Hospital and was an active, healthy 21 month old boy. At the time of his death the deceased lived with his mother and older half-brother and brother in a rental property in Perth.

The focus of the inquest was primarily on issues of safety relating to children’s furniture, particularly unstable chests of drawers, and the options available to minimise the risk of harm to children in the future.

In the deceased’s room a chest of drawers had been purchased three months earlier from a discount furniture store. It was already assembled at the time of purchase.  It was situated in the deceased’s bedroom on the opposite side of the room to his bed and was not fixed to the wall.

On the afternoon of 13 October 2015, the deceased’s mother checked on the deceased in his room as he had been put down in the room for his usual afternoon nap. Upon opening his bedroom door the deceased’s mother saw that the tallboy chest of drawers had tipped over and the deceased was trapped underneath the drawers, some of which had fallen open and were pressing onto his chest.  He appeared to be lying on his side.  The deceased’s mother immediately lifted the chest of drawers up and pulled the deceased out.  She then went to get help from her landlord.  Despite CPR being performed by the landlord and St John Ambulance officers, and continued efforts at Princess Margaret Hospital, the deceased did not respond and he was declared life extinct.

The Coroner was informed that there can be an issue for tenants obtaining permission to fix furniture to walls. The Coroner noted that under the current legislation governing residential tenancies, landlords are entitled to decline consent to a tenant affixing any fixture, and can remove any fixture that a tenant has affixed to the rental premises without the landlord’s consent.  Relating to this aspect of the inquest, the Coroner made a recommendation for amendments to be considered to the Residential Tenancies Act 1987.

Catch Words : Safety Risk of Unfixed Furniture : Rental Properties : Residential Tenancies Act : Accident.

Last updated: 30-Apr-2019

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