Grandson’s body ‘frozen’, inquest told

Wednesday, May 8

The grandfather of a dead 3-year-old says his grandson’s body was "frozen" when he touched him.

Coroner Alexander Ho’s inquest into the death of Lachie Jones continued in Invercargill on Wednesday, May 8.

Lachie’s grandfather Graham Jones gave evidence that when he saw his grandson’s body, he gave him a "cuddle".

"That boy was frozen when I felt him ...," Mr Jones said.

He said Lachie’s body temperature was "identical" to that of his wife about two days after she died.

The witness went to the oxidation ponds after Lachie had died.

"[There were] thistles, rocks and sharp stones and there was no way that Lachlan would walk there," he said.

Counsel assisting the coroner Simon Mount, KC, asked Mr Jones if he thought Lachie was capable of walking more than 1.2km on his own.

"It was so far, I was puffed when I got to the other end.

"I don’t think Lachie was capable of walking that distance, in those conditions anyway."

Earlier, the court heard from Detective Sergeant David Kennelly who said it was "quite possible" the boy had walked to the ponds alone.

"On the night, considering the circumstances, it was leaning [towards] being explainable, certainly in my mind," he said.

Det Sgt Kennelly said he had considered the fact that Lachie was found face up and had no marks on his feet, but said that did not cause him concern.

Mr Mount explained that Lachie had been found face up and was described as having bent knees.

"Had you ever come across a drowning [case] with a body position like that?" Mr Mount asked.

"No," Det Sgt Kennelly replied.

The witness said he did not take any photographs, take Lachie’s body temperature or measure the temperature or depth of the water on the night Lachie died.

He said he thought the temperature readings would be "something for an expert".

He marked the scene, but did not put a scene guard in place.

"Had I known there were allegations [of foul play], absolutely I would’ve put a scene guard on," Det Sgt Kennelly said.

He had no involvement with the case after 1.45am the day after Lachie died, so was not consulted about whether a forensic postmortem was required.

The inquest also heard from local farmer Ross Grant, who said there were about 10 entries to the area of the ponds. He said the area had a lot of birds, including up to 1000 paradise ducks that would moult in January.

Mr Grant said a goose or swan might have chased or hissed at a small child.