Inquest into the Suspected Death of Crispin MITCHELL

Inquest into the Suspected Death of Crispin MITCHELL

Delivered on : 25 February 2022

Delivered at : Perth

Finding of : Deputy State Coroner Linton

Recommendations : N/A

Orders/Rules : N/A

Suppression Order : N/A

Summary : Mr Crispin Mitchell lived in the Oombulgurri community, which is located about 50 kilometres north of the town of Wyndham.  He was last seen at about 1.30 pm on 20 February 1987.  At that time, Mr Mitchell was in a small aluminium dinghy with two brothers heading into the Cambridge Gulf towards Oombulgurri.  At the time Mr Mitchell went missing he was 54 years old.

All three men who were in the aluminium dinghy appeared to be intoxicated and they were noted to be heading into a severe rain squall.  On 21 February 2987, after the three men failed to arrive at Oombulgurri Community, they were reported as missing to the Wyndham Police.  An immediate search for the men was commenced but due to poor visibility, the search had to be abandoned soon after.

On 22 February 1987 the search effort recommenced, including an aerial search and water search using local Marine and Harbour vessels and private vessels.  Marine and Harbours vessel found one of Mr Mitchell’s companion’s body at about 1.30 pm that day.

The following day, the search resumed but was again hampered by poor weather conditions and had to be abandoned.  On 24 February 1987 the search continued and on this day the searchers on a private vessel owned by the Oombulgurri Community located the body of Mr Mitchell’s other companion.

The search for Mr Mitchell continued until 28 February 1987 but no sign of Mr Mitchell was ever found.

The Deputy State Coroner was satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that Mr Mitchell died on or about 20 February 1987 in the waters off the Cambridge Gulf.  The Deputy State Coroner found that given both of his companions were found to have drowned, Mr Mitchell’s death was also likely to have been as a result of drowning.  However, the Deputy State Coroner found that there is insufficient evidence to be able to provide a cause of death, as there are also other possible alternatives given he might have sustained an injury in the storm or capsizing of the boat, or been a victim of predation after going into the water.  The Deputy State Coroner was satisfied that Mr Mitchell died by accident.

Catch Words : Long Term Missing Person : Water and Air Search : Accident

Last updated: 19-Mar-2022

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