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'Unimaginable': Inquest into death of Gore toddler Lachlan Jones begins

Ben Tomsett,
Publish Date
Mon, 29 Apr 2024, 1:33pm

'Unimaginable': Inquest into death of Gore toddler Lachlan Jones begins

Ben Tomsett,
Publish Date
Mon, 29 Apr 2024, 1:33pm

An inquest into the death of three-year-old Lachlan Jones has begun, with a coroner speaking of the family’s “unimaginable” loss.

On January 29, 2019, Lachlan was found dead late in the evening face up in a council oxidation pond 1.2km from his home.

The initial police investigation concluded he had walked by himself to the pond, where he drowned.

His father, Paul Jones, believes Lachlan was murdered.

Day one of a 15-day fixture held by Coroner Alexander Ho began at the Invercargill courthouse this morning.

During the inquest, evidence will be given by witnesses, including Lachlan’s family, who were present or in the vicinity the evening of his disappearance.

Coroner Ho began the hearing by expressing his condolences to the child’s friends and family.

“The loss of a young life like Lachie and the impact this would have had on you is unimaginable to those not in your position,” he said.

“No condolences I express here today, while genuine, can salve your grief. I did not have the privilege of knowing Lachie but he’s now my responsibility.”

He told the court he was not bound to accept the conclusions of two police investigations and would keep an open mind until he had heard all the evidence.

Late last year, Police admitted late last year they had made some missteps in the immediate investigation of Lachlan’s death.

“Just because something is not likely to have happened does not necessarily determine that another is possible,” the coroner said.

In some areas it may be there was not enough evidence, and the inquest may be adjourned to gather such evidence.

The first witness, who has name suppression, was giving evidence this afternoon.

“No way is the fight for justice for my son over,” Paul Jones told the Herald in December 2022 when Gore District Council admitted a health and safety charge relating to the death and inadequate fencing around the ponds.

“Ninety-nine per cent of this town don’t think he walked out there.”

Ben Tomsett is a multimedia journalist for the New Zealand Herald, based in Dunedin.

This article was originally posted on the NZ Herald here.

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