Inquest probes Tas police officer suicides


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PerthNow

The father of a Tasmanian police officer who took his own life has told an inquest a professional standards unit meeting on the day of his son’s death was poorly managed.

A three-week inquest, which began on Monday, is examining the separate suicides of Constable Paul Hunt, Senior Sergeant Paul Reynolds, Constable Simon Darke and Sergeant Robert Cooke.

Const Hunt, 32, was found dead at his father’s property in the state’s north in July, 2016.

The inquest was told Const Hunt was earlier in the day working at a Hobart police station where he was visited unannounced by Tasmania Police’s professional standards unit in relation to allegations he was using his police badge and false driver’s licence information to obtain pseudoephedrine and codeine-based medication from pharmacies.

Const Hunt was served with a stand-down notice, and his work area and locker was searched.

Matthew Alan Hunt indicated he wasn’t sure whether his son was provided with enough support in relation to the meeting.

“It was a pretty significant thing they were going to do. Paul had always wanted to be a policeman and he made that known to everybody he spoke to,” he told the inquest in Launceston.

“People were well aware he had suffered from depression, it wasn’t a secret. I think it was poorly managed.”

Counsel assisting the coroner, Cameron Lee, said the inquest would investigate what inquiries were made prior to the meeting about Const Hunt’s mental health.

Const Hunt was described as a kind and gentle man who loved animals.

“From an early age we had a pretty good life out in the country. He had some good friends that he met at school who stayed with him throughout life,” Mr Hunt said.

Mr Hunt said his son told him he was considering taking his own life about two years before he died.

The inquest was told Const Hunt was spoken to by police about the fact he was obtaining codeine-based medications years before his death and was “anxious” about various professional standards investigations being undertaken.

About a year before his death, he threatened self-harm in hospital after being taken into protective custody for driving with alcohol and drugs in his system.

At times in 2015, he either pre…

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