2012 Australian Surf Life Saving Championships deputy-referee Richard Bignall gave evidence on Tuesday, December 10, 2013, at the coronial inquest into the death of Sunshine Coast teen Matthew Barclay.
2012 Australian Surf Life Saving Championships deputy-referee Richard Bignall gave evidence on Tuesday, December 10, 2013, at the coronial inquest into the death of Sunshine Coast teen Matthew Barclay. Adam Davies

Inquest: No risk assessment report seen the day Matthew died

THE coronial inquest into the death of Sunshine Coast teen Matthew Barclay has been told the carnival's deputy referee had not seen any surf condition or risk assessment reports the day he died.

Matthew Barclay, 14, disappeared in surf off Kurrawa beach on March 28, 2012, while competing in a board event at the Australian Surf Lifesaving Championships on the Gold Coast.

His body was found the following day.

Championship deputy referee Richard Bignall told a coronial inquest on Tuesday he "could not recall" whether any requests were made to postpone the event.

He did recall, however, surf conditions on the day the teen died were "more challenging" in the morning than in the afternoon.

Mr Bignall said the area referee overseeing the under-15s competition, Jen Kenny, had expressed concerns events were running behind time and schedule and wanted to change from race team to board-riding events "so there was fewer people in the water" which he concluded was because of "the surf conditions at the time."

"Jen wanted a rearrangement of events so they could be fitted into the new timetable later on," he said.

"But, it would have resulted in an ongoing knock-on situation."

He said the decision was made on the morning of March 28 to change the scheduling and swap the events.

Barrister Stephen Courtney, representing the Barclay family, asked Mr Bignall whether there was one person responsible for the safety of competitors in the under-15 events.

"No, we were all responsible for their safety," he said.

"Their responsibility rested with all of us."

Mr Courtney asked Mr Bignall whether he remembered the under-15 events being cancelled on the morning of March 28 due to the dangerous surf conditions.

He said he "could not recall this occurring" despite being the deputy referee of the carnival.

Earlier, lead investigator Detective Senior Constable Cameron Hardham told the inquest 94 people were interviewed as part of the investigation.

He said inquires did include whether Surf Lifesaving Australia had any measures in place to retrieve an unconscious competitor from the surf zone as recommended.

The recommendations were made after NSW teen Saxon Bird died at the same event and beach the year before.

"Surf Lifesaving Australia was fully co-operative throughout the entire investigation," he said.

"The only person who raised any concerns about the conditions (throughout the police investigation) was Gold Coast lifeguard Dean Powell."

The inquest heard on day one Mr Powell had made personal notes about the surf conditions the day Matthew died to "cover himself".

However, Det Sen Const Hardham told the inquest the police did not make any attempt to retrieve Mr Powell's notes.

The inquest before Coroner Terry Ryan continues.


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