Coroner's Court of Western Australia

Inquest into the Death of Rhett Samuel McALPINE

Inquest into the Death of Rhett Samuel McALPINE

Delivered on : 31 July 2019

Delivered at : Perth

Finding of : Coroner Linton

Recommendations : N/A

Orders/Rules : N/A

Suppression Order : N/A

Summary : The deceased at the time of his death had been evading police who had attempted to stop his vehicle. When it became apparent the deceased was not going to stop, Police disengaged and allowed the deceased to drive away from them. The deceased continued on for a few minutes before he lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a pole.

The focus of the inquest was whether the police actions could be said to have caused or contributed to the death.

On 13 September 2016 the deceased went fishing with his brother in the afternoon after work and both men had a few alcoholic drinks. Later that evening the deceased and his brother went to the Gingin Hotel and shared a meal. They continued drinking alcohol during the evening. They left the hotel at about 9.00 pm. The deceased had informed his brother during the night that he would not stop if he saw the police and the deceased’s brother understood this was because he knew he would lose his licence for drink driving if breathalysed.

The deceased and his brother left the hotel. The deceased was driving his brother’s ute and they soon came across the police, who flashed their emergency lights indicating for the deceased to stop his vehicle. The deceased made the decision to accelerate away in an attempt to evade the police. Police officers followed the deceased’s vehicle for a time and sped up so that they could identify the driver. The police vehicle then pulled back and reduced their speed, turning off their emergency lights and sirens. Having identified the driver the police planned to go to the registered address of the vehicle to meet up with them.

The deceased has continued to drive his vehicle on the Gingin Brook Road at speed and he has drifted off the road on a sweeping left hand bend, overcorrected and lost control of his vehicle. The car slid across the road and crashed into a wooden power police on the side of the road. The car struck the pole with sufficient force to snap it in two, bringing down the power poles. The police officers have come across the crash scene shortly afterwards.

Police found the deceased had died at the scene and his brother, who was in the passenger seat, was alive. Evidence at the inquest suggested the deceased’s vehicle reached speeds well in excess of the 110 km/hr speed limit. The Coroner found the deceased was very intoxicated which may have affected his ability to make good decisions and to control his vehicle.

The Coroner found the actions of the police could not be found to have cause or contributed to the death.

Catch Words : Police Pursuit : Motor Vehicle Accident : Intoxication

Last updated: 21-Aug-2019

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