An inquest into the death of a mum lost at sea has been delayed out of respect to a community grieving the loss of three men in similar circumstances.
An inquest into the death of a mum lost at sea has been delayed out of respect to a community grieving the loss of three men in similar circumstances.

Delay in 49-year-old death mystery probe is ‘out of respect’

FAMILY looking for answers into the death of a beloved mother at sea were left with "more questions than answers" by the original inquest into the tragedy almost 50 years ago, a court has heard.

Enid Hyde was a 36-year-old mum of six when she vanished from a dinghy travelling between Cairns and Yarrabah in March 1972.

Her body was never found.

Her brother-in-law Norman Hyde, 24, also disappeared but his body was located during a search two days later.

An inquest into their deaths was due to re-open in the Cairns Coroner's Court on Tuesday at the urging of Ms Hyde's daughter Dianne Underwood, but was adjourned out of sensitivity for the Yarrabah community which is grieving the loss of three men lost at sea during an Australia Day fishing trip.

Yarrabah looking accross Mission Bay. Picture: Stewart McLean
Yarrabah looking accross Mission Bay. Picture: Stewart McLean

 

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During a brief opening, Ms Hyde's barrister Andrea Lawrence said the initial one-day inquest held a year after the tragedy in 1973 was "cursory and perfunctory" and left the family "dissatisfied".

"Enid's family was concerned the 1973 inquest leaves them with more questions than answers about their mother's disappearance," she said.

"(The findings) are telling for what they are not and what they omit."

She told the court Ms Hyde rarely drank alcohol, could not swim and was scared of the water, and was a good mother to her six children - none of which was highlighted in the original inquest findings.


She conceded it was likely Ms Hyde drowned off False Cape, but she was "unlikely to leave the tinnie and enter the water of her own volition".

The court heard there were three other people on the vessel at the time, Ms Hyde's husband Richard Hyde, Conrad Yeatman and Cecil Smith.

Mr Yeatman is the only one of those men still alive, while the investigating police officer at the time has also subsequently died.

Counsel assisting the Coroner Joseph Crawfoot said Mr Hyde and Mr Smith's interviews, along with the police officer's had been reduced to statements which were part of the brief of evidence.

Coroner Nerida Wilson said they hoped to reschedule the inquest within six months but was conscious of the trauma the Yarrabah community was currently facing.

"It is not lost on me these (latest) circumstances share some similarity," she said.

"Out of respect (it will be rescheduled) so not to distress the grieving and shocked community."

Originally published as 'Out of respect': Delay in 49-year-old death mystery probe


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