Families shown footage of capsized vessel at inquest

SILENCE descended on a Gladstone courtroom this morning as family members of two men who were onboard FV Cassandra watched drone footage of the capsized trawler.

A joint inquest into the sinking of two Queensland fishing vessels, Cassandra off the Fraser Coast on April 4, 2016 and Dianne off Seventeen Seventy on October 16, 2017 and the loss of eight men in the two incidents began at the Coroners Court at Gladstone today.

Skipper Matthew Neil Roberts, 61, and crewman David Barry Chivers, 36, remain missing after the sinking of Cassandra.

The bodies of Dianne skipper Benjamin Patrick Leahy, 45, and crewman Adam Ross Hoffman, 30, were found after the vessel capsized.

The bodies of the remaining Dianne crew - Adam Jeffrey Bidner, 33, Zachary John Feeney, 28, Christopher David Sammut, 34 and Eli Davey Tonks, 39 - have never been recovered.

Ruben McDornan was the sole survivor and will be called as a witness at the inquest.

Counsel Assisting the Coroner John Aberdeen told the court the inquest would investigate whether crew members had sufficient time to access safety equipment.

 

The first witness called to give evidence, Stephen Armitage, is in custody for matters unrelated to the inquest and appeared via video link.

The court was told Mr Armitage was tasked with refitting Cassandra prior to the trawling mission.

Mr Armitage explained to the court the set-up of a trawler and specifically that of Cassandra.

The court was told Mr Armitage had no qualifications in boat rigging or configuration.

Footage of the capsized FV Cassandra, taken by an underwater camera was shown next.

Family members and friends were confronted with images of the sunken trawler on the ocean floor.

The video also captured the damage to the vessel, revealing indents to the both sides of the hull at the bow.

The court was told the damage was caused by the "pushing of air pressure" as the vessel sunk.

Parts of the vessel was also slightly damaged on impact when it hit the ocean floor.

The footage showed damage to the entangled trawling nets and chains, which trailed 50m behind the sunken vessel.

The inquest will continue with the calling of the second witness.


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