The parents of teen lifesaver Matthew Barclay hope an anonymous informant will come forward to help get to the bottom of their son’s death.
As an inquest into the death of young surf lifesaver Matthew Barclay draws to a close, his family fears the whole story isn’t being told.
New evidence has emerged about how lifesaving officials considered moving the race that claimed the 14-year-old’s life at the 2012 national titles.
Matthew vanished in rough seas after coming off his paddle board at Kurrawa Beach on the Gold Coast on March 28, 2012.
His body was found the next day, making him the third competitor to die at the event since 1996.
The inquest has heard organisers that year discussed holding the under-15 events at another beach due to dangerous conditions but Matthew’s race went ahead as planned.
Comments by a senior Surf Life Saving Australia official about relocating the event to Kirra Beach were detailed in an anonymous letter to Queensland’s coroner.
Matthew’s parents begged the author to come forward so the claims could be tested.
“Clearly they have knowledge that is quite important,” father Stephen Barclay told reporters on Tuesday after evidence at the inquest concluded.
“(Legal) submissions are to be made in the next few weeks, so if that person or any of the other people that have knowledge of that relocation of events (are around), could they please just come forward.”
Tuesday’s hearing was told a safety official mentioned the hazardous conditions before Matthew’s race but thought others were in a better position to decide on cancellation.
“I would have been a little reluctant to do so and cry wolf,” Brett Wakefield told the Brisbane inquest.
“As I said, the other people had more experience in that area. I’m known for being a lot more cautious than most people and so I wouldn’t have been comfortable about doing that until I was definitely sure it was necessary.”
The court also heard a risk assessment that morning noted a shallow sand bank with possible “occasional” fatal consequences.
Yet the carnival’s safety co-ordinator Darren Moore said he recommended it was appropriate to start competition that day.
Giving evidence via telephone, Mr Moore agreed he rated the possibility of a fatality at Kirra Beach, a possible “safer” alternative location, as “probable”.
He agreed he downgraded the risk to “moderate” because competitors wore high visibility vests.
“Do you accept it’s absurd that the consequence of a hazardous fatality, the likelihood is probable, but you have rated the risk as moderate?” asked barrister Stephen Courtney, for the Barclays.
“Yes,” Mr Moore admitted, adding, “that’s how I saw it”.
Outside court Mr Barclay said the inquest had raised some very disappointing and concerning issues, including how risks are assessed and communicated by Surf Life Saving Australia.
“You can have all the policies and procedures in place that you want but unless they’re not acted on correctly, then they’re useless,” he said.
Lawyers will make written submissions to Coroner Terry Ryan before he delivers his findings at a later date.