Wieambilla coronial inquest: Nine issues to be explored by coroner in murder of cops, neighbour revealed

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An inquest into the deaths of two cops and a neighbour in a religious terror attack will probe how police reacted to the bloody massacre, including what led to the doomed decision to send four officers to the property.

Six people, including the three shooters, died in the horrific massacre at Wieambilla in Queensland’s Western Downs region back in December 2022.

A coroner is now probing the circumstances surrounding the shooting – which was dubbed a religiously-motivated terror attack by police in early 2023.

During the third pre-inquest conference on Tuesday, the formal scope of the issues to be examined by state coroner Terry Ryan was revealed at court.

It will include consideration of how Queensland Police communicated the incident to the broader Wieambilla community and if the advice given to the constables who survived the attack was “appropriate”.

Constables Rachel McCrow, 29 and Matthew Arnold, 26, were murdered by members of the Train family – brothers Nathaniel and Gareth and his wife, Stacey – after they attended a Wains Rd property in the regional Queensland town on December 12, 2022.

Four police officers were sent to conduct a welfare check on Nathaniel, a former NSW school principal who had been reported missing.

Constable Keely Brough, 28, fled into bushland after being fired upon while a fourth constable, Randall Kirk, was injured.

58-year-old Alan Dare, the Train’s neighbour, was murdered after coming over to investigate.

Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) officers shot all three members of the Train family dead later in the night during a siege.

The Trains followed an extremist Christian ideology known as “premillennialism” – the belief Jesus Christ would return to earth after a period of extreme suffering.

Ruth O’Gorman, counsel assisting the coroner, on Tuesday said the NSW Police Commissioner had been given leave to appear at the inquest.

The court was told the investigation by the Queensland Police’s Ethical Standards Command (ESC) had concluded.

Ms O’Gorman outlined the issues to be explored during the inquest, following drafted orders at a previous hearing in November last year.

“Parties, if they wish, may make submissions with respect to those issues either today or in writing at a date to be set,” she said.

A total of nine issues will be explored when the inquest kicks off from July 29.

Aside from the circumstances of the deaths of constables McCrow and Arnold, Mr Dare and the Train trio, Ms O’Gorman said consideration would be given to the circumstances which led to the four constables attending the Wieambilla property in the first place.

The court was told Nathaniel Train’s unlawful entry from NSW into Queensland at Talwood, during the Covid-19 pandemic, would be explored.

Ms O’Gorman said the decision to deploy the four constables would also be assessed in light of communications from NSW Police.

This would include how a missing person’s report on Nathaniel was broadcast and whether “NSW Police Force officers acted in accordance with the relevant policies and procedures”.

The last issue will examine whether policy or procedural changes are needed to “reduce the likelihood of deaths occurring in similar circumstances”.

Many of the inquest issues were first outlined in June 2023 during the first pre-inquest conference.

A fourth pre-inquest conference is scheduled to occur on June 24.

WHAT THE WIEAMBILLA INQUEST WILL EXPLORE

  1. Consideration of the circumstances which led to the attendance of Constables Arnold, McCrow, Kirk and Brough at 251 Wains Road, Wieambilla on 12 December 2022, including:
    1. The circumstances of Nathaniel Train’s unlawful entry into Queensland at Talwood in December 2021 and the adequacy of the subsequent police investigation.
    2. The circumstances surrounding the issuing and broadcasting of a missing person’s report in relation to Nathaniel Train by the New South Wales Police Force in November and December 2022, including whether New South Wales Police Force officers acted in accordance with the relevant policies and procedures.
    3. The information communicated by the New South Wales Police Force to the Queensland Police Service in the lead up to 12 December 2022, and the effect that information had on the decision to send the four officers to the Wains Road property on 12 December 2022.
    4. Consideration of the circumstances in Chinchilla and Tara police stations on 12 December 2022 which resulted in the decision for the four officers to attend the Wains Road property on the day and at the time they did.
  2. Consideration of the circumstances surrounding the decision of Constables Arnold, McCrow, Kirk and Brough to enter the Wains Road property.
  3. Consideration of the circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting of Constables Arnold and McCrow, including:
    1. Who fired the shots that killed Constables Arnold and McCrow.
    2. What guns and ammunition were used and whether they were obtained lawfully.
    3. Whether Constables Arnold, McCrow, Kirk and Brough were adequately equipped and trained to respond to the incident.
  4. Consideration of the circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting of Alan Dare, including:
    1. Why Mr Dare attended at the Wains Road property and what information he had at the time of his attendance.
    2. Who fired the shot(s) that killed Mr Dare.
    3. What gun(s) and ammunition were used and whether they were obtained lawfully.
  5. The adequacy and appropriateness of the Queensland Police Service response to the incident, other than the response by the Special Emergency Response Team, including:
    1. Whether the Queensland Police Service communication system was adequate.
    2. Whether the advice given to Constables Kirk and Brough was appropriate.
    3. Whether the Queensland Police Service Command and Control of the response to the incident, including communications about the incident to the Wieambilla community, was adequate and appropriate.
    4. Whether the actions of the Queensland Police Service recovery and extraction team were appropriate.
  6. Consideration of the circumstances leading up to the shooting of Gareth Train, Stacey Train and Nathaniel Train by Queensland Police Service Special Emergency Response Team operatives, including whether the actions of the responding operatives were appropriate in the circumstances.
  7. Consideration of the profiles and motivations of Gareth Train, Stacey Train and Nathaniel Train.
  8. Whether anything was known to the authorities that would have indicated a risk that Gareth Train, Stacey Train and Nathaniel Train would act in the way they did on 12 December 2022, including the Queensland Police Service response to firearm related calls for service and investigations in the vicinity of the Wains Road property prior to 12 December 2022.
  9. Whether any changes to procedures or policies could reduce the likelihood of deaths occurring in similar circumstances or otherwise contribute to public health and safety.

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