Coroner's Court of Western Australia

Inquest into the Suspected Death of Neil Lindsay KOBELT

Inquest into the Suspected of Neil Lindsay KOBELT

Delivered on : 5 April 2024

Delivered at : Perth

Finding of : Deputy State Coroner Linton

Recommendations : N/A

Orders/Rules : N/A

Suppression Order : N/A

Summary : Mr Kobelt was last known to be alive on 8 February 1982 in Kalgoorlie. He was apparently reported missing by his family in South Australia in March 1982, but checks with the WA Police Force and South Australian Police Force have not found any records of the report and no record of an investigation into his disappearance being commenced at that time. A recent report was made to police by Mr Kobelt’s sister on 20 April 2021, which resulted in an investigation into Mr Kobelt’s disappearance in 1982. No evidence was found of any sightings or contact with Mr Kobelt after February 1982 and the police investigation concluded he was deceased. The matter was referred to the State Coroner to consider an inquest be held into Mr Kobelt’s suspected death. The Deputy State Coroner held an inquest on 18 March 2024, which explored the circumstances surrounding Mr Kobelt’s disappearance.

Mr Kobelt had a long history of psychiatric illness when he moved from South Australia to Kalgoorlie, Western Australia in July 1981. His family believe he chose to move as he was under a bond that required him to receive psychiatric treatment and he did not like the strict supervision and forced medication regime and chose to move states in order to ‘keep his freedom’. However, he was known to be prone to impulsive and unpredictable behaviour, particularly when not taking his medication.

Mr Kobelt lived at a hostel in Kalgoorlie for approximately seven months and became involved with a local Church group. Church members recalled he seemed settled and happy but did show signs of a deteriorating mental state over time. Eventually, Mr Kobelt was hospitalised in an apparently psychotic state on 6 February 1982, after being found walking naked in the street. He was discharged from hospital two days later on 8 February 1982, but no records have been able to be located indicating the extent of his treatment or what plans had been made for him upon release. Mr Kobelt was never seen again. He did not collect any of his belongings from the hostel, including his car, and has never contacted his family again. This was out of character for Mr Kobelt, who had always maintained contact with his family in the past.

Mr Kobelt’s mother was contacted by the owner of the hostel in March 1982 and they were informed he had not collected his possessions. Mr Kobelt’s brother eventually went to Kalgoorlie and collected Mr Kobelt’s car, which was his prized possession, and his other belongings. Amongst his personal items were some notes which could be interpreted as a suicide note, although the notes were undated. There were also poems and prayers amongst his papers, consistent with his known strong religious beliefs. His family b

The police investigation into Mr Kobelt’s disappearance was hampered by the length of time that had elapsed from the time since Mr Kobelt was last seen and destruction of records in that time. However, all efforts were made to pursue any line of enquiry. The police found no record of Mr Kobelt in any state or territory of Australia after February 1982 and they confirmed he has not contacted any family members or friends since that time. Sadly, Mr Kobelt’s parents have both now passed away, but his sister confirmed that his family had been certain then, and remain sure, that he would have contacted them if he was alive. His sister also voluntarily provided DNA, which does not match any unidentified remains on the national database.

There was evidence at the inquest that the area around Kalgoorlie is dry and harsh and the temperatures were extreme during the day at that time of year. If Mr Kobelt had wandered outside the town, he would have been exposed to harsh environmental conditions that could have caused his death, particularly if he was in a compromised mental state. His death could, therefore, have arisen as a result of natural causes or accident, although the possibility that he died by way of suicide also could not be ruled out. The police were able to confirm that there is no evidence to suggest that another person was involved in his death.

The Deputy State Coroner was satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt Mr Kobelt is deceased and died in relative proximity to the time he was discharged from Kalgoorlie Hospital on 8 February 1982. The Deputy State Coroner was unable to determine how he died and made an Open Finding as to the manner of Mr Kobelt’s death.

Catch Words : Long Term Missing Person : Schizophrenia : Open Finding

Last updated: 16-Apr-2024

[ back to top ]