Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia Limited

Coronial Delays lead to prolonged suffering and heartache

This week marked the first anniversary of the death of a loved Noongar man, who passed away after a citizen’s arrest by a home-owner in the Perth suburb of Lockridge.

For the family of the late Mr. Woods-Roberts, their sadness has been compounded by the knowledge that they are no closer to finding out what happened to him.

Adelene Roberts is both sad and frustrated that there are so many unanswered questions in relation to the death of her uncle on the 29th of August last year. Mr. Woods-Roberts was only 34 years old. “How is it possible that my uncle has died after a citizen’s arrest, when the police have said that they don’t allege that he actually committed a crime in the first place?”

The Aboriginal Legal Service of WA (ALSWA) is assisting the family in their quest for answers, and shares their frustration of a system which typically see a coronial inquiry take between one and two years.

“There’s no doubt that these lengthy delays place a huge amount of stress on families who are suffering the loss of a loved one. We’ve been advised that coronial matters to be investigated have increased by over 20%, with no additional staff to handle the increase, but because of the emotional toll that this leaves, more funding must be made available to ease the suffering of those left behind” said ALSWA CEO Dennis Eggington.

ALSWA said that there was also the highly contentious matter of citizen’s arrests, given that no charges have been laid in relation to this death.

Adelene Roberts said that her family just want answers. “We need to know how my uncle died and why he was overpowered during a citizen’s arrest in the first place. We are very hurt and very sad and it has affected all of our daily lives, when we still don’t know what happened twelve months on. Ms. Roberts stressed that the delay placed unnecessary pressure not only on their family, but other families also going through this process. “There are so many gaps surrounding my uncle’s death and the longer it takes to get these answers, the longer our suffering and heartache continues” said Ms. Roberts.

Media Enquiries to ALSWA Media Officer Jodi Hoffmann on 0428 948 610

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7 Aberdeen Street
Perth WA 6000
(near McIver Train Station)

Phone: +61 8 9265 6666
Fax: +61 8 9221 1767
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