Lachie Jones’ body in ‘perfect condition’

Tuesday, May 14

People who examined Lachie Jones soon after his death said his body was in "perfect condition".

Coroner Alexander Ho’s inquest into the 2019 death of the 3-year-old continued in Invercargill on Tuesday last week.

Police concluded the boy had drowned after he was found face-up in an oxidation pond 1.2km away from his Gore home.

Funeral directors Kevin Hammond and Elizabeth Dennis said they always checked a body when it came into their care.

"We both noted that Lachie’s body was in perfect condition," they wrote in a joint letter.

Mr Hammond said Lachie’s father Paul Jones visited the funeral home and asked to check his son’s feet and legs for marks.

They did, and the witness said he did not see any damage to Lachie’s feet.

Constable Rachel Lean, who was involved in photographing Lachie’s body, also did not notice any unusual markings.

St John emergency medical technician Bernie Varaine described his attempt to revive Lachie.

He said he performed CPR for "quite a while" with no success.

Throughout the inquest there were allegations of foul play and Lachie’s body being stored in a freezer.

The volunteer said he did not notice anything that would suggest the toddler had been frozen.

"It was January, it was ... a relatively warm night and he was cold to touch and wet," the witness said.

"There was nothing inconsistent with a body coming out of the water."

An ambulance care summary recorded the boy was "floppy and unresponsive" and the witness said there were no obvious signs of rigor mortis or rigidness.

The officer in charge of the reinvestigation, Detective Inspector Stu Harvey, read his formal written statement last week. He explained some of the main criticisms relating to the first investigation were the lack of scene examination and failing to establish a timeline, among other things.

A police dog handler also gave evidence last Tuesday, in a closed court from which the media were excluded.