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Dreamworld inquest delay as Ardent Leisure accused of being slow to hand over documents
Witnesses in the Dreamworld inquest may have to be recalled, with Ardent Leisure, the theme park's owners criticised for taking too long to provide crucial documents.
The inquiry into the deaths of four guests at Dreamworld in October 2016 has been delayed because more than 1,000 new documents were only handed to the Coroner this week.
Cindy Low, Kate Goodchild, Luke Dorsett and Roozi Araghi were fatally crushed when the Thunder River Rapids ride malfunctioned in October 2016.
Matthew Hickey, the barrister acting for Low's family, said witnesses may have to be recalled, telling the Coronial inquest that he spent the "better part" of last night trying to review as much of the new information as possible.
He complained to Coroner James McDougall that Ardent Leisure’s lawyers had not alerted the inquest that the documents "are indeed relevant to the witnesses your honour is about to hear from".
Lawyer for Ardent Leisure, Bruce Hodgkinson, told the inquest finding all relevant documents for the "very broad" inquiry was a "very complex, difficult task".
He again argued his team had to "interrogate a raft of databases", including personal databases on personal computers to find documents.
Hodgkinson added “the opportunity to cross examine witnesses has not only been available but has been availed upon.
Counsel assisting the coroner Ken Fleming "endorsed" Hickey's comments, pointing out it had been nearly two years since the documents were requested.
Fleming added “this is from a very large organisation who were responsible for the ride in which four people have died - the worst tragedy of this sort in the history of theme parks.
"Two years later we are still asking them, despite the size of the corporation and despite the size of the lawyers acting for them, we still haven't got the documents we require."
McDougall said he was "reluctant to delay proceedings" and "from a practical point of view" there was little he could do about the matter.
Yesterday outside inquest, Counsel assisting the Coroner, Ken Fleming, clarified comments he had made to the ABC criticising a legal firm for "compromising" the inquiry's evidence.
Shine Lawyers announced earlier this week three key witnesses were planning to sue the theme park.
Fleming said on Wednesday Shine Lawyers were "using the opportunity to build their own profile".
On Thursday he stressed he wasn't speaking for the Coroner, adding “so far as there might be any imputation against Shine Lawyers, I unreservedly withdraw those and apologise for those.
"The things I said were entirely mine, there were not the coroners."
However, Fleming added it "would have been better" if Shine Lawyers had not made its plans public.
Image: Dreamworld’s Thunder River Rapids ride in operation prior to the October 2016 fatalities.
9th October 2018 - Staff to sue Dreamworld over ‘significant psychological injuries’
26th September 2018 - Ardent Leisure facing naming challenges with new Dreamworld simulator ride
5th September 2018 - Dreamworld partners with Canberra’s National Zoo to aid Wild Tiger Conservation
27th August 2018 - Dreamworld looks to attract visitors with entry fee drop and LEGO exhibition
22nd August 2018 - Ardent Leisure losses grow as Dreamworld’s value declines by $75 million
30th July 2018 - Ride fatalities aftermath continues to drive down Dreamworld’s value
8th July 2018 - Climber falls to death from Sydney Tower Skywalk
11th March 2018 - Dreamworld demolishes Thunder River Rapids ride
25th October 2016 - Four killed in tragic incident on Dreamworld’s Thunder River Rapids ride
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