Coroner orders police to investigate suspicious death

A STATE Coroner has been critical in her findings surrounding the police handling of the suspected death of Jay Anthony Brogden who disappeared from Airlie Beach almost eight years ago.

Coroner Jane Bentley said there was a police obligation to report a suspicious death to the coroner immediately, not almost three years later as was in Mr Brogden's case.

She recommended the Queensland Police Service conduct an internal audit of all files the missing persons unit holds to ensure all disappearances occurring 12 months ago or more have been reported to the State Coroner as required.

Ms Bentley, in handing down her findings this week, also recommended Mr Brogden's case be transferred to the state's homicide squad to be investigated as a suspicious death.

An inquest into Mr Brogden's death, held in Cairns last month, heard he was last seen leaving his cabin at Reefo's Resort at Airlie Beach on April 21, 2007.

The inquest was told Mr Brogden, 21, had been receiving threats for several months over his treatment of his former partner, Patricia Heath, who was the mother of his only child.

Mr Brogden, in a phone call to his mother in February, 2007, told her that someone was going to kill him.

"Mum, you do not understand, these people mean business . . . people go missing from up there and are never found," he apparently told his mother.

The inquest heard the night before Mr Brogden disappeared he got into an argument with his former partner at a barbecue and he gave her a few slaps before walking off and returning to his cabin.

Mr Brogden has not been seen alive since and his body has never been found.

Coroner Bentley said it was more than likely Mr Brogden had met with foul play and was critical of how the investigation was handled after it was transferred to the missing persons unit.

"The suspected death of Mr Brogden was not reported to the State Coroner by investigating police or the missing persons unit, either upon suspicion of his death or upon the expiration of 12 months from his disappearance," she said.

Ms Bentley further recommended the police operating manual be amended to ensure a missing person is reported to the State Coroner as soon as the investigating officer suspects they are dead or within 12 months of the date of the person's disappearance.

- APN NEWSDESK.

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