Inquest into the death of Edward Wayne Logan — (Queensland Coroner)

SSRI Ed note: Coroner finds that "despite" being on Lexapro, Celexa, man's personality was to blame for him being shot by police during manic, violent episode, not meds.

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JURISDICTION: Maroochydore

FILE NO(s): COR 2014/4321

DELIVERED ON: 14 December 2015

Wayne Logan’s death was reported as a death in custody under the Coroners Act 2003. He died while he was trying to avoid being put into custody. In those circumstances an inquest must be held.

  1. An inquest was held at Maroochydore on 18 and 19 November 2015. All of the statements, records of interview, photographs and materials gathered during the investigation were tendered at the inquest.
  2. I consider that the evidence tendered in addition to the oral evidence was sufficient for me to make the necessary findings under s 45 of the Coroners Act 2003.

The evidence

Personal circumstances and history

  1. At the time of his death, Mr Logan was a resident of Point Cook in Victoria. He was a Maori man who was born in New Zealand and migrated to Australia in 1998. He was aged 51 years. He had lived in Victoria since 2008 with his defacto partner, Ms Nardine Waho. At the time of his death he was visiting his son, Thomas Logan, at Outlook Drive, Tewantin. Thomas lived with his partner, Teegan Gordon, and their son, who was aged three years.
  2. Mr Logan was on bail for a serious assault charge relating to his former employer in Victoria, which occurred in July 2014. As a result of this assault his employer suffered severe facial injuries, which required reconstructive surgery.
  3. In New Zealand, Mr Logan’s criminal history included possession of an offensive weapon, wilful damage and threatening property in 1994. He was sentenced to eight months imprisonment for these offences. Mr Logan’s criminal history in Queensland comprised offences of common assault, obstructing police and breach of Domestic Violence Release conditions in 2005. He was placed on two years’ probation for these offences.
  4. Mr Logan had two adult children, Khristina and Thomas, from his relationship with his former wife, Anna, in New Zealand. After breaking up with Anna, he started a relationship with Maia Dahl. It is apparent from the statement of Ms Dahl1 that Mr Logan was violent throughout their relationship. Ms Dahl confirmed that she was in a relationship with Mr Logan from about 1996 until 2008. Ms Dahl and other family members also described a number of incidents involving Mr Logan making threats to kill family members and assaulting others.2
  5. In June 2008, Mr Logan moved to Melbourne where his new partner, Nardine Waho, joined him. Ms Waho said that for the six months leading up to the death, Mr Logan was ‘unbalanced’. He believed he was going to be imprisoned for the serious assault of his employer, but had indicated he was not prepared to return to jail.

Medical history

  1. Evidence from Thomas Logan suggested that Mr Logan had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Traces of Citalopram (an anti-depressant) and Escitalopram (commonly sold as Lexapro and used to treat anxiety and depression) were detected in his toxicology results.4 Quantities of Lexapro were located in his belongings after his death.
  2. Records from Dr Freeman6 at the Altona Superclinic indicate that Mr Logan had been prescribed Escitalopram on 9 October 2014 and 10 November 2014. He had reported to Dr Freeman that the medication had a ‘calming effect’.
  3. On 9 October 2014, he had voiced thoughts of violent suicide attempts but said he would never carry this through because he was ‘too much of a coward’. Dr Freeman’s notes indicate that Mr Logan had been assessed in 2010 as displaying traits of ‘psychopathic personality’. He was referred to see a psychiatrist with the Victorian Institute of Forensic Mental Health in October 2010 but he did not attend that appointment.
  4. A report was obtained from Dr Natalie MacCormick of the Clinical Forensic Medicine Unit.7 That report confirmed that ‘the level of escitalopram of 0.31mg/kg was relatively high’. This could have been for a variety of reasons, none of which can be ultimately proven. These included abnormalities with Mr Logan’s metabolism, or accidental or intentional overdose of the drug. Dr MacCormick’s opinion was that while the level was high, it did not fall within the lethal range. She confirmed that there was nothing in the material, which suggested Mr Logan was suffering from acute toxicity.
  5. Overall, Dr MacCormick confirmed that the level of escitalopram was probably within the therapeutic range, which suggested Mr Logan was taking the medication as prescribed, with good compliance. Despite the therapeutic level of escitalopram, Mr Logan still went on to exhibit extreme rage and violence. In Dr MacCormick’s opinion, this supported a conclusion that Mr Logan’s personality was the cause of the behaviour, rather than it being the result of mental illness.

Events leading to the death

  1. Mr Logan travelled to Queensland on 12 November 2014 for the 26th birthday of his son, Thomas Logan. He was staying with Thomas at 7 Outlook Drive, Tewantin. Thomas’ partner, Teegan Gordon, and their three year-old son were also living at this address.
  2. Teegan’s evidence was that in October 2014 Mr Logan had expressed suicidal thoughts to her during telephone conversations. He had said that he was ‘sick of the world and his head’ and would kill himself before going back to prison. She had persuaded him to visit Tewantin out of concern for his well-being, and she and Thomas had paid his travel costs.
  3. Teegan’s evidence was to the effect that Mr Logan then said words to the effect of ‘Fuck it – I’ll do you all’. Teegan then saw him head into the kitchen and grab two knives from the knife block. He was holding a knife in each hand. Karen Gordon’s evidence was that Mr Logan said that he was not leaving ‘unless he was in a body bag’.
  4. Teegan described Mr Logan as holding the knives up in the air just above shoulder height, with the blades pointing out of the bottom of each fist, towards the family. Teegan’s evidence was that she genuinely believed that Mr Logan was going to stab her at that time. Teegan called 000 at this time. The call records her telling Mr Logan to ‘get out’ and ‘we’ve got kids and he’s got knives and he’s pissed’. At this time Mr Gethin-Jones was in the backyard with the children on a trampoline.
  5. Thomas, Teegan and Karen backed out the front door. Soon after, they were all outside the house, and Mr Logan was still inside with the knives, menacing them through the front screen door. Mr Logan then put the knives down and followed the others out to the front of the house.
  6. While they were all on the front lawn, a melee ensued during which Mr Logan punched Teegan in the face. She fell to the ground as a result. Mr Logan also punched Karen, who was also kicked in the ribs. It appears that the women had tried to intervene to stop Thomas and his father from fighting.
  7. Thomas, Teegan and Karen then managed to get themselves back into the house and were able to lock the door behind them. They did not know where Mr Logan was, so they proceeded to the backyard.
  8. They could hear Mr Logan banging and smashing things and they heard the sound of breaking glass. Photographs produced to the inquest show that Mr Logan had caused extensive damage to the windscreens, roof, lights and mirrors of Teegan’s Hyundai sedan and Mr Gethin-Jones’ vehicle. He had also smashed the windows to the home and damaged the garage door.9 Teegan had been disconnected from 000 while at the front of the house. Mr Logan had destroyed her phone so she called 000 back on Thomas’ phone.10 They were all up against the back fence on the right hand side at the back of the house as it faces Outlook Drive.
  9. It was clear from the evidence of the family members present that these events were extremely frightening for them. William Gethin-Jones’ evidence was that he was ‘scared shitless’. Teegan said in her evidence that she genuinely believed she was going to be killed. Thomas, on reflection, was somewhat more relaxed about the events, saying that he thought his father just wanted to make a statement.

Police attend at the scene

  1. The first response officers were Senior Constable Adam Tickner and Constable Jamieson Wood, who were attached to the Noosa Police Station. Both officers gave evidence at the inquest. Senior Constable Tickner was the senior officer and also a Field Training Officer. Constable Wood was a first year constable who had been sworn in on 8 April 2014. Senior Constable Tickner was working a 2:00pm – 10:00pm shift and recalled that, at 2:06pm, a call came through for a job at Outlook Drive, Tewantin.
  2. A number of 000 calls had been made to police seeking their attendance at 7 Outlook Drive. The details received by the officers before they left the police station were that there was a disturbance in which a family had retreated, and there was possibly a knife involved.
  3. Although Ms Waho tried to reassure Mr Logan, she could still hear glass smashing and she noticed that Mr Logan had started to cry. Mr Logan then said to her ‘goodbye, there’s nothing to talk about, I love you’. That was the end of the call, which was somewhere around 2:09-2:10pm, just prior to police arriving at the scene.
  4. Senior Constable Tickner said that, when they pulled over to the curb, he could see Mr Logan smashing the left-hand mirror of a red Nissan Navara parked on the opposite footpath. He thought, at this stage, that Mr Logan was armed with a sword.
  1. From viewing the footage, it is clear that as soon as the police van pulled over to the curb and the police alighted from the vehicle Mr Logan ran to the police vehicle, chasing Senior Constable Tickner. Senior Constable Tickner recalled that Mr Logan said he was going to kill the officers.
  2. After pursuing Senior Constable Tickner around the back of the van, the footage clearly depicts Mr Logan changing direction and running straight at Constable Wood with the metal pole. Constable Wood then discharged his firearm at Mr Logan while retreating backwards. Mr Logan was within several metres of Constable Wood. Senior Constable Tickner discharged his weapon a second later. That was immediately followed by another shot from Constable Wood.
  3. Constable Wood’s evidence was that he had lost sight of Mr Logan as he pursued Senior Constable Tickner down the driver’s side and around the back of the police van. He was moving to a position on the driver’s side when he saw Mr Logan coming directly towards him with the metal pole.
  4. These events all happened within seven seconds of the officers’ arrival on the scene. Both officers are heard to call on Mr Logan to ‘put it down, put it in down’ on four occasions before discharging their weapons. Mr Logan’s only response was ‘get fucked’.
  5. Senior Constable Tickner immediately advised that shots had been fired and called for Queensland Ambulance Service assistance over the police radio after clearing the metal pole from within Mr Logan’s reach. Both officers then proceeded to give first aid assistance to Mr Logan. Queensland Ambulance Service officers arrived approximately two minutes later and continued resuscitation attempts, however Mr Logan could not be revived.
  6. The evidence of Senior Constable Tickner and Constable Wood at the inquest was that Constable Wood would have been seriously injured or killed if they had not fired at Mr Logan.