HomeNewsAustraliaSt Basil’s aged care managers ordered to give evidence at coronial inquest

St Basil’s aged care managers ordered to give evidence at coronial inquest

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Two managers at St Basil’s Homes for the Aged in Fawkner, where 50 residents died during a coronavirus outbreak last year, have been directed by State Coroner John Cain to give evidence at an inquest into the deaths, The Age reports.

Former chairman, Kon Kontis, and the home’s nursing director, Vicky Kos, have so far refused to give detailed evidence to investigators or to a coronial inquest examining the deaths of 50 residents at the aged care facility in 2020.

Last week, a lawyer for the pair argued they risked self-incrimination if they took to the stand at the inquest.

READ MORE: Managers of St Basil’s Fawkner refuse to give evidence during inquest.

Kon Kontis (left) and Vicky Kos (right).

Under the Coroners Act, a witness may decline to give evidence if it is likely to incriminate them. However, the coroner can overrule this if it is in the interests of justice for the person to be forced to give evidence.

Judge Cain said this was the case for Mr Kontis and Ms Kos, who played central roles in the management of St Basil’s Fawkner during the outbreak and are the only two people to not yet give evidence to the inquest.

“… they played important roles in preparing for a possible outbreak of COVID-19 at the facility and responding to such an outbreak once it commenced on 9 July 2020,” the coroner said.

READ MORE: No food or medicine after takeover: Inquest continues into St Basils Fawkner.

“They are, therefore, clearly in a position to give direct evidence about nearly all of the topics identified in the scope of this inquiry.”

Judge Cain said a key question that would be put to the pair was why St Basil’s did not send a message to the Commonwealth Department of Health, via a specific email address set up to notify the department about COVID-19 cases.

Counsel assisting the inquiry Peter Rozen, QC, also wants to quiz the pair about whether they had read numerous emails from the department which set out instructions of what to do if an outbreak occurred.

John Karantzis, a partner at Carbone Lawyers which is representing about 20 families who lost relatives at the home, said “the families of those loved ones who died at St Basil’s welcome the decision of the coroner and look forward to hearing from those in charge as to why this disaster occurred.”

If the pair do not appeal the ruling, their evidence is likely to be heard in 2022.

READ MORE: St Basil’s inquest: Woman says dad became ‘skeleton’ while mother was ‘dosed on antipsychotics’.

Source: ABC News.

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