I warned school four times, dad of child killed by gate says

TRINITY Catholic College Lismore was warned at least four times that its Brunswick Street gate was very dangerous before it fell and killed five-year-old Gabriel McBurney, an inquest heard yesterday.

Greg McBurney, the father of Gabriel and an employee of the school, told the inquest he had complained about the gate at least four times and on one occasion was pinned under it for 15 minutes.

Mr McBurney said the gate had slid past its stoppers and fallen on him in February last year and he had further problems with the gate leading up to his son's death seven months later.

Greg McBurney  outside court on the final day of an inquest into the death of his son Gabriel.
Greg McBurney outside court on the final day of an inquest into the death of his son Gabriel.

"I landed on the ground with the gate resting on my right side and my left arm was pinned underneath my body," he told the inquest.

Mr McBurney said he reported the incident the next day and subsequent incidents to the college manager Roz Robinson.

But on a day where questioning focused on the college's Occupational Health and Safety systems, the school's principal, Brother Peter Pemble, said Mr McBurney had not followed college procedure for reporting OH&S and maintenance issues on the internal computer reporting system.

"With respect to Mr McBurney, he should have made a report," Br Peter said.

Br Peter added they had had a training session with staff to explain how to use the system.

But Mr McBurney said as catering manager he had left the training early to prepare lunch for other staff.

He also said it was his understanding that any problems should be reported directly to his boss, Roz Robinson, and that he had not been told otherwise.

Br Peter and Mr McBurney were the last witnesses called for cross-examination on the fourth and final day of the inquest.

Yesterday Br Peter released a statement acknowledging the end of the hearing.

"It has been an emotional few days for all involved in the inquest," he said. "I sincerely wish to thank and acknowledge the staff, students and families who have supported Trinity during what remains as one of the most distressing times we have faced."

The coroner, Magistrate Nick Reimer, is expected to deliver his findings and recommendations on March 23.


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