Coroner slams cops after mum driven to her own death
POLICE in Bundaberg have have been criticised by a coroner for their response to a domestic violence incident 40 hours before extreme terror pushed a vulnerable mother to jump to her death from a moving car.
Middlemount man Shane Dickson and Rinabel Blackmore met online and were together for about eight months - in a relationship plagued by violence.
At the time of her death she had been intending to leave him.
"The warning signs should have been unambiguous to police," Northern Coroner Nerida Wilson said in findings handed down last week.
The 44-year-old Brisbane mother was so afraid for her life she jumped from a utility being driven by Dickson at about 100km/h on the Dingo-Mount Flora Rd on December 31, 2014. She later died in Townsville from serious head injuries.
"This case highlights the importance of training in the nuances of domestic violence for frontline police officers," Coroner Wilson said.
"Mr Dickson had a significant record and known history of domestic violence against former partners and his parents, which specifically included incidents of dangerous driving within the context of domestic violence and the non-lethal strangulation of two former partners," she said.
The findings stated police had been called to a Bundaberg motel on December 29, 2014 - where Dickson and Ms Blackmore had spent the night - after a physical altercation between the two.
Ms Blackmore told officers Dickson had previously hit and choked her.
"He has punched me in the past. Last night's argument he put his hands around my neck when he kept repeating that I was a liar and he didn't trust me," she told police.
"He said to me he doesn't care if he kills me because jail is easier than being with me."
Despite his known history of domestic violence and the information provided by Ms Blackmore, police did not take Dickson into custody or charge him with a criminal offence.
"The only action taken by police after these events was to prepare an application for a protection order," Coroner Wilson said.
Three days later Ms Blackmore was fatally injured and in November 2016 Dickson was convicted of and jailed for her manslaughter.
"I have formed a view that the attending police missed opportunities to adequately assess the risk to Ms Blackmore and gather evidence that could have formed the basis for a charge or charges against Mr Dickson in relation to that incident," Coroner Wilson said.
"The police who attended the domestic violence incident at the Bundaberg motel assessed Ms Blackmore as 'high risk' but their actions did not align with that assessment."
Coroner Wilson said Ms Blackmore was all the more vulnerable because she was a Filipino woman and English was not her first language.
"The terror experienced by Ms Blackmore in the last days, hours and minutes of her life precipitated her fatal decision to exit a vehicle travelling at 100km/h so as to escape her abuser," she said.
Coroner Wilson acknowledged the changes within the Queensland Police Service since Ms Blackmore's death in relation to how domestic and family violence is approached and investigated.
"Significantly the legislative changes now allow officers of the QPS to issue Police Protection Notices to provide immediate protection to victims and other persons at risk of domestic and family violence," she said.
"The QPS has also introduced the Vulnerable Persons Training package. In addition to the online training there are also face-to-face workshops with a strong emphasis on cultural change."