Coroner's Court of Western Australia

Inquest into the Suspected Death of Clarence Benningfiled BATEMAN

Inquest into the Suspected Death of Clarence Benningfield BATEMAN

Delivered on : 14 November 2019

Delivered at : Perth

Finding of : Coroner Vicker

Recommendations : N/A

Orders/Rules : N/A

Suppression Order : N/A

Summary : Mr Bateman was last seen alive on the evening of 24 September 1977 at his home where he was put to bed in an intoxicated state. In the early hours of 25 September 1977 a house fire completely destroyed the home and Mr Bateman was not located in the house or vicinity or ever seen or heard from again.

At approximately 3.30 pm on 24 September 1977 Mr Bateman attended the Lancelin Police Station to report the theft of some property. He was noted to be visibly affected by liquor. Within an hour of leaving the police station Mr Bateman returned and again complained about the property being missing. He had no recollection of having made a complaint earlier that afternoon. While on patrol of the Lancelin area police saw Mr Bateman walking on Gingin Road towards the tavern. Shortly after sighting Mr Bateman the proprietor of the Endeavour Tavern was advised an elderly man had fallen on the steps of the tavern and as a result had been taken in to the kitchen by the staff. Mr Bateman was taken to the Silver Chain sister for treatment of a cut over his right eye. Following treatment Mr Bateman was taken home and put to bed. He requested and was provided with a bottle of sherry in an attempt to keep him safely at home.

At about 4.45 am on 25 September 1977 a contract electrician who resided in Lancelin noticed fire at the rear of the Beachcomber Restaurant. He drove up the driveway and saw the lounge room area of the deceased’s home was on fire with flames sweeping into the kitchen. The proprietor of the restaurant was also present and advised he had tried to get into the house but had been beaten back by the flames. He was concerned Mr Bateman may be inside although he could not see any sign of him from where he was standing. The fire spread rapidly through the house due to the asbestos and timber. Emergency Services were called.

Following the fire a search was made of the surrounding area and the remains of the house were carefully sifted with the aid of volunteers. No trace of Mr Bateman was found.

The Coroner was satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt Mr Bateman is deceased and died sometime on 25 September 1977 in the vicinity of the property in Lancelin. The Coroner was unable to determine how the deceased died and made an Open Finding as to the manner of Mr Bateman’s death.

Catch Words : Long Term Missing Person : House fire : Mental health : Open Finding

Last updated: 13-Jul-2020

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