David Pham
David Pham Contributed

Police update on mystery Pham death investigation

POLICE and Queensland Health have responded to community concerns the investigation in David Pham's mysterious death was being hampered by a forensic testing backlog.

Since the Rockhampton teenager's body was discovered on April 3 in the backseat of a white Subaru on Brednoona Road, Calliope with police lacking toxicology results, still unable to explain what caused his death.

In their latest update, detectives from Gladstone CIB described Pham's case as a complex, ongoing investigation.

"Police have explored several lines of enquiry, as well as conducting interviews with a number of people, sourcing evidentiary materials and the collection of forensic samples," a police spokesperson said.

"The finalisation of this investigation is dependent on several factors, of which forensic results are only one.

"Investigators have kept the Pham family up to date with the progress of the investigation including advising them that complex police investigations are by their very nature often lengthy."

The Morning Bulletin understands there's been a significant increase in demand for coronial services since the enactment of the Coroners Act in 2003 with a 30 per cent increase in the number of reportable deaths between 2011 and 2018.

In addition to this growth, the complexity of cases has placed significant pressure on autopsy reporting times.

Addressing the long wait times, a Queensland Health spokesperson said Forensic and Scientific Services played an important role in supporting coronial investigations and providing counselling to families whose loved ones have entered the coronial system.

Forensic and Scientific Services were seeking to implement strategies to address these issues, including more robust triaging, increased administrative and laboratory support for forensic pathologists, monitoring and allocation of pathologist-specific workload and further reporting and practice changes.

"Conducting autopsies is an important part of a Coroner's investigation and establishes the cause of a death and the circumstance in which a death occurred," the spokesperson said.

"In more complex cases, the Forensic Pathologist undertaking the autopsy may need to undertake more testing or seek a specialist report from a neuropathologist, which will increase the time it takes to finalise a report.

All efforts are taken to complete autopsies as quickly as possible."

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