Coroner Michael Holmes to preside over inquest for Armidale drowning

Inquest: Tributes at the scene of the drowning at Armidale Dumaresq Creek in September. Coroner Michael Holmes will examine the young girl's death at an inquest in 2017. Photo: Matt Bedford

Inquest: Tributes at the scene of the drowning at Armidale Dumaresq Creek in September. Coroner Michael Holmes will examine the young girl's death at an inquest in 2017. Photo: Matt Bedford

AN INQUEST into the tragic death of a young girl who drowned in an Armidale creek will be heard next year.

Coroner Michael Holmes offered his condolences to the family of the three-year-old girl who passed away on September 11 during a mention of the case in Armidale Coroner’s Court on Friday morning.

"The court extends its deepest sympathies to the family,” he told court, which included detectives, and representatives from council.

The little girl, whose identity has been suppressed by the court, was playing in the Creeklands park with family when she was pulled unresponsive from the Armidale Duramesq Creek. Despite attempts by witnesses and emergency services, the girl died in hospital.

The family, who travelled back to Bangladesh following the tragedy, were not in court on Friday. The court heard they will return to Armidale in February, next year, for study at the University of New England.

Mr Holmes told the court the inquest was not a witch hunt.

"I understand there is some community concern and I want to deal with this matter as soon as possible,” he said.

"It is not the coroner’s role to pass blame.

"We can make a recommendation regarding preventative strategies so that this doesn't happen again."

During the directions hearing, the court heard police will use a specialist camera to photograph the scene of the drowning, ahead of the inquest.

Assisting the coroner, Senior Constable Cheryl Hall said police in Armidale would collaborate with investigators in Tamworth to carry out 3D imaging of the park.

Senior Constable Hall said the 3D imaging machine can only take stationary images, so multiple pictures of the area may be taken to better understand the area from the eyes of a child.

Mr Holmes said the primary objective was to better understand how the tragedy occurred, and provide recommendations to ensure community safety.

“We want to make sure this doesn't happen again,” he said. "In a community of this size it's important for the police and council to work together to ensure this doesn't happen again."

Mr Holmes said the inquest would examine preventative strategies including design options around the creek but conceded it was “not practical to fence the area”.

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