Coroner's Court of Western Australia

Inquest into the Deaths of Christopher Mervyn DRAGE and Trisjack Preston SIMPSON

Inquest into the Deaths of Christopher Mervyn DRAGE and Trisjack Preston SIMPSON

Delivered on : 12 October 2021

Delivered at : Perth

Finding of : Coroner Urquhart

Recommendations : Yes

Recommendation No. 1

That the Western Australian Police Force introduces a policy to the effect that, whenever possible, probationary constables performing operational duties should be partnered with a police officer with a post-probationary operational experience of at least one year.

Recommendation No. 2

All police officers with operational duties in a defined area receive an induction upon being posted to the area for the first time that includes an identification of the boundaries and significant physical, demographic, cultural and socioeconomic features of that area.

Recommendation No. 3

In order to enhance and strengthen relationships between police and Aboriginal people, newly promoted 1st class constables and senior constables at metropolitan and regional police stations should undertake immersive, face-to-face cultural awareness training.

Orders/Rules : N/A

Suppression Order : Yes

There be no reporting or publication of the names, picture or any other identifying features of Tactical Operator 2 and Tactical Operator 65.

There be no reporting or publication of the names, pictures, or any other identifying features of the three adolescents who were with Master Drage and Master Simpson on 10 September 2018.  Any reporting or publication of these three individuals will refer to them as N, T and P.

Summary: On 10 September 2018, Master Drage and Master Simpson both drowned after they tried to swim across the Swan River. Immediately before they entered the Swan River, they were running away from police. They were 16 and 17 years respectively.

The two boys had met up with three friends earlier that day. The five boys then caught a train to Maylands Train Station. At about 2.45 pm, they were seen running along a verge and two of them jumped a fence at the corner house of Clarkson Road and Tranby Road, Maylands. By chance, two police officers in a marked police vehicle were in the area, which was flagged down by the witness.  As the police officers investigated, further reports were received that a group of males were jumping fences into backyards.

The boys were then seen by police running across Clarkson Road towards the Maylands Bowling Club. Police pursued four of the group on foot as they jumped over a fence near the Maylands Bowling Club car park and headed through a swamp towards the Swan River. 

Master Drage and Master Simpson entered the water in order to avoid police and soon found themselves in challenging conditions. The water was extremely cold, with a strong current. Police observed the two boys struggling to keep afloat. Two police officers from the TRG (who happened to be in the area) entered the water in an attempt to rescue the boys. Their desperate efforts to save the two boys were in vain.

The Coroner was satisfied that the tragic deaths of Master Drage and Master Simpson arose when they attempted to swim across the Swan River to avoid apprehension by police. The Coroner was also satisfied that they would not have been aware of the treacherous conditions of the river when they decided to swim across it. The Coroner was of the view that the two police officers who chased the group had acted appropriately at all times.

The Coroner made three recommendations which involved the supervision of probationary officers on operational duties, the need for police officers to have an awareness of important landmarks within the areas they operate in and the need for the WAPF to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the issues and marginalising factors facing the Aboriginal people and communities they encounter during their work.

Catch Words: Police Pursuit; Risk Assessment: Partnering of Probationary Police Officers; Inductions for Newly Assigned Police Officers; Relations between Police and Aboriginal Youths; Accident

Last updated: 21-Mar-2022

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