The inquest into the deadly Dreamworld accident has been delayed because more than 1,000 new documents have been handed to the coroner but have not been examined by lawyers for the victims’ families.
Cindy Low, Kate Goodchild, Luke Dorsett and Roozi Araghi were fatally crushed when the Thunder River Rapids ride malfunctioned in October 2016.
Two years later, Dreamworld’s owner Ardent Leisure is still producing relevant documents to the coronial inquest.
On Monday, they handed over more than 1,000 documents and counsel assisting the coroner, Ken Fleming, said his colleagues had been “desperately trying” to process “some thousands of pages”.
“[They] were making great headway until early this morning when the power shut off from the whole building and a lot of overnight work was lost,” Mr Fleming told the court.
At Mr Fleming’s request, the inquest adjourned two hours early on Thursday, so lawyers for the victims’ families could review the new material.
Lawyer for Ardent Leisure, Bruce Hodgkinson, told the inquiry finding all relevant documents for the “very broad” inquiry was a “very complex, difficult task”.
“We would much prefer to have been able to produce all of the documents at an earlier time but the reality is it has proven to be a much bigger task than anybody expected,” Mr Hodgkinson said.
“We acknowledge that the material is later than is desirable.”
Some sources close to the victims’ families have told the ABC they were frustrated the documents were not provided sooner.
They said adjourning the inquest early was “causing significant delay to the whole process and additional distress to the families”.
Thousands of documents related to next witnesses
The new material is believed to be relevant to the next two witnesses — Dreamworld attractions supervisors Jennie Knight and Jason Johns, who oversaw the day-to-day operations of the theme park’s rides.
Mr Hodgkinson said people were searching through “huge databases” to find relevant documents for the inquest.
“We had four full-time people going through all the material that we had,” he said.
“This task is not a simple task, it has taken an incredible amount of resources and time … it’s not merely a matter of pushing a button or putting in a search term and coming up with a series of documents and being satisfied that is the totality of documents on that issue.”
Barrister Steven Whybrow, who is representing the families of siblings Kate Goodchild and Luke Dorsett, told the court he was concerned about a lack of documentation about a 2014 Thunder River Rapids ride incident that was “strikingly similar” to the 2016 tragedy.
He said he did not know if the new Ardent Leisure material included further documents relevant to the incident, but said “the lack of any documentation following that incident is of great concern to my clients”.
“One way or another it is time that it is clarified,” Mr Whybrow said.
“Are there any other documents about that incident, or are there not?”
Ardent Leisure said it had been conducting a targeted search for the documents relevant to that incident.
Two weeks of inquest hearings into the Dreamworld disaster were held in June and another fortnight of hearings began on Monday.
The inquest will continue Friday morning.