Aussie tourist may have been pushed off cliff: court

Ashleigh Dargusch is remembered by boyfriend Jared Wilford as a bubbly person who was always smiling.
Ashleigh Dargusch is remembered by boyfriend Jared Wilford as a bubbly person who was always smiling.

THE family of an Australian tourist who died in a cliff fall have suggested in court that her boyfriend may have had a motive for her death.

Ashleigh Dargusch died after slipping off a cliff ledge at the pole house waterhole on Kauaeranga Valley on December 27 last year.

She had only been in the country a few days and was holidaying in Thames with boyfriend Jared Wilford when they met up with his local friends, John White, Brenden Prayoncorn and Matthew Hopkirk.

After a few drinks the group decided to go swimming and Mr White drove them to the waterhole.

Giving evidence during the coroner's court hearing in Hamilton this morning, officer in charge Senior Constable Carl Redaelli said although the incident occurred on December 27 they were not informed until January 3.

He said St John Ambulance were called along with the local fire brigade to help retrieve her from the rocks, some 6 to 7 metres below.

He was questioned on that by Dargusch family spokesman Rick Greinke who asked what the procedures were in New Zealand for a 111 call.

Mr Redaelli said as it was reported as an accident with an injury, St John would be first respondents.

Mr Greinke then questioned him on a sentence in his report that while there was motive to support Miss Dargusch being pushed, there was no evidence.

Mr Greinke said they believed Mr Wilford had financial and anger issues with Miss Dargusch and Mr Wilford was the person standing next to her when she fell to her death.

Mr Redaelli said he stood by his comments - there was no evidence to support her being pushed.

But Mr Greinke said alarm bells should have been ringing as they had all been drinking that day. He also asked why it took so long for police to interview witnesses, as long as five months in one case, but Coroner Gordon Matenga said issues like that were for him to determine.

Mr Greinke has since asked Mr Hopkirk where Mr Wilford's hands were when they were walking and he replied he believed they were by his side.

Mr Wilford is next to give evidence followed by Derek Thompson of the Thames Coromandel District Council.

The inquest is set down for most of the day.

Topics:  coronial inquest death editors picks new zealand

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