Drowned teenager's mum slams court findings

Courtney Simon’s family reacted angrily to a coroner’s findings yesterday after he declined to refer the case to the Director of Public Prosecutions and did not recommend that laws governing life jackets be tightened.

Cathy Simon, Ms Simon’s mother, said ‘‘there was no truth in the findings’’ after Deputy State Coroner Mark Buscombe ruled there was insufficient evidence to forward the brief of evidence to the DPP.

Mrs Simon and her family had hoped that prosecutors would consider a charge of manslaughter by criminal negligence against Courtney’s boyfriend, Brendan Fullerton, who was the skipper of the 12-foot tinny that capsized in rough water on Lake Macquarie on June 11 last year.

Mrs Simon claims that her daughter, who would have turned 16 today, did not want to go on the lake knowing that rough weather was predicted, but she followed Brendan out of love.

‘‘She followed her heart because of the love for her boyfriend,’’ Mrs Simon said outside Newcastle Coroners Court.

Mr Buscombe said Courtney’s death was a tragedy that should not have happened and he was critical of Brendan’s late mother and stepfather, who drove Brendan, Courtney and a friend to a boat ramp knowing high winds were predicted, Brendan was unlicensed, the boat was unregistered, overloaded and carrying a carton of beer.

‘‘Despite this ... the decision was left to the children concerned,’’ Mr Buscombe said.

‘‘It was incumbent upon the parents to stop the children from going out.’’

While Mr Buscombe referred to the teenagers as children, Mrs Simon described the trio as ‘‘minors’’ who were led by a strong-willed 16-year-old.

She said that as the skipper, Brendan was responsible for the safety of his passengers.

‘‘I hope you rot, Brendan,’’ she said in court.

Lake Macquarie was already choppy when the trio began their voyage to Elizabeth Island where they intended to camp overnight.

The boat capsized and one of the survivors, Daniel Drury, stayed with the boat.

He and Brendan eventually made it to shore. Courtney’s body was found 10 days later.

Her family has begun campaigning for Courtney’s Rule, which seeks to tighten laws regarding life jackets and regular inspections of small boats, similar to registration checks for cars.

Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide