Aug 04, 2022

St Basil’s managers lose bid to not give evidence to State Coroner

St Basil's managers lose bid to not give evidence to State Coroner

Former managers of St Basil’s Home For The Aged, in Fawkner, Victoria, have lost their Supreme Court of Victoria bid and are being compelled to provide evidence to the Coroners Court of Victoria. 

St Basil’s Manager, Vicky Kos, and Chairman, Kon Kontis, refused to give evidence to the Coroners Court’s ongoing investigation into resident deaths at the aged care facility that occurred in 2020.

This week, the Honourable Judge Stephen O’Meara said the grounds on which the managers requested to not provide evidence to the State Coroner “must be rejected”.

Judge O’Meara said that the State Coroner’s request for the managers to make a statement to the Coroners Court is one that “a person must not fail to comply with… without a lawful excuse”.

A family member of one of the aged care residents who died in the St Basil’s Home For The Aged, Klery Loutas, told the ABC that the families have welcomed the decision from the Supreme Court.

Ms Loutas’ mother, a 77-year-old resident at St Basil’s – Filia Xynidakis – is one of the five cases of death from suspected neglect that are being invested by the State Coroner.

“They [Mr Kontis and Ms Kos] have got vital pieces of the puzzle that they need to share with us so we know exactly what happened, how it happened, so Governments and legislators can take action, so that it doesn’t happen again,” Ms Loutas told the ABC.

Ms Loutas added that all the families involved in the State Coroner case have found the delay due to the Supreme Court bid quite difficult.

The Coroners Court case has been on hold for over year, waiting for the outcome of the Supreme Court case.

The initial investigation was opened in August 2020 by the State Coroner, following the death of five aged care residents – suspected to be because of neglect and not COVID-19 – during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia.

Forty-five other residents living at the Victorian St Basil’s Home For The Aged died due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the facility in 2020. At the end of the outbreak, 94 staff and 94 residents had contracted the virus.

The State Coroner has not indicated when the next coronial inquest hearing will take place.

This Supreme Court ruling follows the St Basil’s Home For The Aged facility recently being charged by workplace health and safety watchdog, WorkSafe Victoria, for nine counts of breaching the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

On the same day the Supreme Court ruling was passed down, St Basil’s Home For The Aged operators appeared before the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court for an administrative hearing. The facility operators will reappear at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court in December for another hearing.

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