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Coroner's jury finds Kovco unintentionally ki -

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Coroner's jury finds Kovco unintentionally killed himself

Broadcast: 03/04/2008

Reporter: Leigh Sales

A coroner's court jury has found that Private Jake Kovco irresponsibly shot himself in the head
with his own gun, killing himself unintentionally.


TONY JONES: The family of Private Jake Kovco has endured a lot in the past two years - the pain of
his death, the botched repatriation of his body, and two full inquiries into how he died.

There's still no peace of mind for his widow and his mother. A Coroner's Court jury today found
that Private Kovco irresponsibly shot himself in the head with his own gun killing himself

That's very similar to an earlier finding by a military tribunal, as our national security
correspondent Leigh Sales reports.

LEIGH SALES, REPORTER: For the Kovco family, there's little joy at today's verdict.

SHELLEY KOVCO, WIDOW: At the end of the day, it doesn't bring Jake home. He's still gone.

LEIGH SALES: The soldier's mother Judy Kovco is the one who insisted on this second inquiry,
unhappy with the military ruling that her son had accidentally killed himself while skylarking. She
was asked if the jury got it wrong.

JUDY KOVCO: Most definitely.

LEIGH SALES: During evidence, Judy Kovco's lawyer repeatedly implied that another soldier may have
shot Jake Kovco and that there'd been a cover up.

The jury appears to agree that those theories are fanciful nonsense, as senior counsel assisting
the enquiry, John Agius, put it.

The jury found the fatal gun shot wound was irresponsibly self-inflicted by Private Kovco. And that
on the balance of probabilities, he unintentionally took his own life.

This inquest revealed details that were kept quiet during the military hearings that Private Kovko
had an affair in the months before his death and was sexually abused as a child.

This second inquiry has come at a significant cost, both to the taxpayer and the Kovco family,
whose deepest secrets have been revealed. The question is whether it was all worth it, given the
result is virtually identical to the earlier military inquiry.

REPORTER: Mrs Kovco, has it been worth it?

LEIGH SALES: The coroner Mary Jerram told the Kovco women she hoped they would be able to close the
page on this sad part of their lives.

Leigh Sales, Lateline.