Final day of inquest into Echuca toddler’s death

A coroner has said the case of an Echuca toddler, who drowned after wandering into a nearby creek, showed the need for parents to be aware of risks and take appropriate precautions.

Joshua Moore died on October 2, 2010 while under the care of family friends, Sandie Young and Brett Llewellyn, who lived on a farming property in Gunbower.

Joshua and Ms Young’s toddler Travis had let themselves out of the house and walked the 100 metres to Gunbower Creek while Ms Young and Mr Llewellyn slept.

At the second and final day of the inquest into Joshua’s death, coroner Bruce Cottrill questioned the owner of the property, dairy farmer Brian Haw.

Joshua drowned close to a pumping shed owned by Mr Haw.

Mr Cottrill asked the farmer if there were any warning signs posted on the shed, or fencing that would keep children away from the water.

Mr Haw said there was not, but said he had warned Ms Young and Mr Llewellyn about the waterway when their tenancy started.

The creek and its banks are on public land and Mr Haw said he had never been told about any safety measures he needed to comply with in regards to the shed. The court heard there was a three-strand wire fence along the creek, but that was “barely stockproof”.

Mr Cottrill indicated he was not inferring any blame to Mr Haw.

“The issue in this case is a very common circumstance where people have to be aware of the risks and take appropriate precautions, especially with young children,” he said.

“It’s inappropriate for a coroner to suggest that all water holes like this be closed off from the public.”

The inquest also heard from ambulance officer Stephen Leader who was the first paramedic on the scene.

Mr Leader told the court his ambulance had been dispatched at 9.17 am from Cohuna, about 35 kilometres away, and had arrived on scene at 9.42am.

He said he could see straight away that Joshua was dead. “The child was not breathing, pulse-less and cold to touch,” he said.

Mr Llewellyn had been performing CPR on the two-year-old for half an hour.

Mr Leader used the ambulance equipment to continue to try to revive Joshua.

An air ambulance arrived from Bendigo about 10am, but by then there was nothing they could do. Paramedics were authorised to stop their attempts to resuscitate at 10.30am. Mr Cottrill will return his findings to the Coroners Court at a later date.

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