Representing the families of the victims of the 2017 Bourke Street rampage, Adviceline Special Counsel Genna Angelowitsch read a statement today on behalf of the families of Matthew Poh Chuan Si, Yosuke Kanno, Bhavita Pattel, Thalia Haikin and Zachary Matthew Bryant. This statement followed the findings delivered by Her Honour Coroner Hawkins.
“Over the course of 31 separate sitting days, Her Honour Coroner Hawkins heard evidence from over 50 witnesses about what happened in the lead up to and on the day of 20 January 2017, as well as changes that have been implemented by Victoria Police and other organisations since that time.
During the course of the evidence, a number of witnesses extended genuine condolences for those who lost their lives as a result of the events on 20 January 2017. These condolences were gratefully received and were deeply appreciated.
The majority of the witnesses who gave evidence during the inquest were current serving members of the Victoria Police Force. During the course of their evidence, criticisms were put to a number of these officers about decisions that were made or actions that were or were not taken in the lead up to the Bourke Street attack. It was difficult to hear these officers reject any criticisms that were made of their actions, even when these criticisms had been levelled by senior members of the Victoria Police command. This suggests a persisting disconnect between serving members of the Force and senior members of the Victoria Police Force command.
The findings delivered this morning by Her Honour Coroner Hawkins seek to ensure that similar atrocities never occur again in the future. With this purpose in mind, it is expected that the recommendations will be adopted in full, and their implementation will be undertaken with transparency and accountability.
Over the course of this particular inquest, evidence was given about missed opportunities for earlier intervention and apprehension. It is imperative that Victoria Police see this inquest as a catalyst for real, meaningful cultural change within the force, lest this investigation be added to the list of opportunities missed.”
Seperately, Melinda Tan (widow of Matthew Poh Chuan Si) had an additional statement read on her behalf.
“As we approach the fourth anniversary of the tragic day in Bourke Street, my family are constantly reminded of the lives lost on 20 January 2017. This year in particular has been especially difficult for us as our families remain separated by different State and country borders due to the COVID situation. As a result, some family members who wanted to attend today’s hearing are unable to do so.
Reflecting on the evidence and oral submissions by the various interested parties, it is clear to me that no one will accept any responsibility on their part for the events on that day or the lead up to it. There is no dispute that the Offender himself drove the vehicle that injured and killed innocent lives. However, how and why did we enable him to do so?
I felt that Counsels assisting the Coroner finally voiced the families’ feelings and concerns with their closing and oral submissions. It is based on hard evidence and facts rather than one’s self-interest to protect their reputation.
Her Honour Coroner Hawkins has instilled hope that this inquest will not be wasted and to remember the main reason why we were all gathered here in the first place. It is for the safety of the community – the young and old, local Victorians, interstate visitors and even foreigners. We place our trust in Victoria Police to protect our lives and take decisive action in the face of danger; and we will have your back when you do. With the change in leadership at Victoria Police, I hope that the new Police Commissioner will listen to the victims’ voices in this tragedy and provide us with some comfort that our loved ones were not sacrificed in vain.”