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NT coroner releases his findings into the dea -

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NT coroner releases his findings into the death of a Canadian backpacker

Reporter: Norman Hermant

TONY JONES: More than a year ago, Lateline broke the story of the death of a Canadian backpacker,
Cynthia Ching, at an outback cattle station. Today, the Northern Territory coroner released his
findings from an inquiry into her death. Among his recommendations: that charges be re-instated
against the New Zealand-born helicopter pilot who spilled aviation gas on Ms Ching, causing the
burns that killed her. Norman Hermant reports.

NORMAN HERMANT: Halfway around the world, two years after their daughter's death, Ralph and Sandy
Ching finally have some official answers from the Northern Territory coroner.

SANDY CHING, CYNTHIA CHING'S MOTHER: I do feel that he did a very fair assessment of the
information that was given to him.

NORMAN HERMANT: Cynthia Ching had been working at Kings Creek Station when, at a party, aviation
gas being used as fuel in a lantern spilled, leaving burns over more than 60% of her body. She died
six weeks later. The helicopter pilot who spilled the fuel, Ned Lee, was charged with with
committing a dangerous act causing death. But he couldn't be extradited from New Zealand and the
charges were dropped.

The coroner says:

GREG CAVANAGH, NORTHERN TERRITOY CORONER: It remains the case that a crime may have been committed
and appropriate steps must be taken.

NORMAN HERMANT: It was regrettable, said the coroner, that in his evidence, Ned Lee did not accept
responsibility for what happened.

SANDY CHING: I had hoped that he would face up to his responsibilities and that he would actually
admit that he was very stupid and wrong in what he did.

NORMAN HERMANT: The coroner also addressed the issue of whether the pilot's demountable, where the
accident took place, was part of the Kings Creek Station workplace. The agency responsible for
monitoring workplace safety in the Northern Territory has always maintained it wasn't, telling the

NT WORKSAFE STATEMENT: NT WorkSafe has not carried out an investigation into this matter.

NORMAN HERMANT: The coroner thinks that is wrong:

GREG CAVANAGH: I do not agree with the opinion that the demountable was not a "workplace". I
recommend NT WorkSafe conduct a review of the meaning of "workplace" as it appears the Act.

NORMAN HERMANT: The findings also reviewed this confrontation at Kings Creek Station, aired on
Lateline last year. Cynthia's father was forced off the property. The coroner said it was
unfortunate because it reflected badly on station owner Ian Conway. Overall, he impressed the
coroner as an honest and decent man.

RALPH CHING, CYNTHIA CHING'S FATHER: The coroner rung me. He can only base his findings on the
testimony - whether they were truth or lies. I mean, what can you do?

NORMAN HERMANT: The coroner concludes by stating he hopes the Chings can now find closure. They're
not sure.

RALPH CHING: This is not the end of it, I don't think so.

SANDY CHING: I would like to see it end sooner rather than later, but we'll have to wait and see
how it all plays out.

NORMAN HERMANT: The findings are in, but moving on from their daughter's death remains a challenge.
Norman Hermant, Lateline.