Coroner orders police to continue probing woman’s death
The State Coroner has ordered police to continue investigating the death of an Adelaide woman who claimed she was raped by federal Attorney-General Christian Porter.
In a statement issued late on Wednesday, Coroner David Whittle said a brief of evidence handed to him on Monday over the woman's June 2020 death was "incomplete".
He has ordered one of his senior lawyers to liaise with detectives to gather further evidence, including material obtained and published by the media in recent days.
This has included letters and unsworn statements from the woman.
Mr Whittle says "once that investigation has been completed to my satisfaction", he will decide whether to hold a public inquest into her death.
The woman, 49, who cannot be named for legal reasons, took her own life after making allegations of historic rape against Mr Porter, who is now the nation's chief law officer.
He went public on Wednesday afternoon to tearfully profess his innocence, saying what was alleged to have occurred during a trip to Sydney in 1988 "simply did not happen".
The woman's family on Wednesday said they were suffering "considerable grief".
They declined to comment at their Adelaide home but in a statement issued through their lawyer, the woman's family said the matter was sensitive and they did not wish to speak publicly.
"They continue to experience considerable grief arising from their loss," it reads.
Under state law, police investigate all suicides and prepare a report for the Coroner, who then decides whether the circumstances require an inquest to investigate all evidence, problems or system failures.
"On the morning of 1 March 2021, an investigation file regarding the death of a woman in June 2020 was delivered to me by South Australia Police," Mr Whittle said.
"The woman's death and related matters have been the subject of media reporting in recent days.
"Whilst (SA Police) has provided information to me, I determined that the investigation is incomplete. This was particularly evident having regard to information contained in recent media reports.
"Counsel Assisting the State Coroner was allocated to assist SAPOL in the direction of the further investigations which I have requested.
"The investigation is continuing and once that investigation has been completed to my satisfaction, I shall determine whether to hold an inquest."
SA Police issued a short statement saying they continued to assist the coroner in the ongoing investigation.
On Tuesday, Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said the preparation of a report to the coroner had "been done".
"SA Police involvement in the circumstances that are currently being spoken about relating to the preparation of the report for the Coroner - that's been done," Mr Stevens said.
That brief related solely to the alleged victim's death.
Speaking on ABC Radio on Wednesday, Mr Stevens said "NSW Police had carriage of the sexual assault investigation", which allegedly occurred on a trip to Sydney when the woman was 16, but the alleged victim resided in SA.
"Sadly, that person died in June 2020 before there was any formal statement taken by the NSW Police," Mr Stevens said.
"Our obligation … is to undertake an investigation on behalf of the coroner and provide a report to the coroner.
"What the coroner decides to do in terms of inquesting that death is a matter for the coroner."
However, her friends, including lawyers and business leaders, have joined calls for a coronial inquiry into her death.
Originally published as Coroner orders police to continue probing woman's death