Shortcomings in search for runaways

A POLICE search for a missing 10-year-old girl from Rockhampton hours before she died has come under close scrutiny at a coroner’s inquest.

Anna (not her real name) died on February 7, 2009, about 9.30pm when she was hit by a car on Belmont Rd after running away from her foster home.

On Tuesday an inquest into the death continued and a court heard yesterday that it was Senior Sergeant Carl Burgoyne’s first or second shift as District Duty Officer (DDO).

He attended a foster house after 6pm on Greenlakes Road, run by Lifestyle Solutions, following a report that one of the girls there was going to jump off the roof. While at the house, he was told Anna and a 17-year-old girl had left and might be heading into Rockhampton.

Snr Sgt Burgoyne told the inquest there were numerous communication breakdowns during the search and he had received no specific training when he took on the role of a relieving DDO for three weeks.

He said with the benefit of hindsight he should have told Communications Co-ordinator (COMCO) he was making the incident a priority so he could focus his attention on the search rather than having it diverted by other jobs that night.

“That’s just how the cards fell,” he said.

He said he was preoccupied with filing a report on the missing girls when he got back to the police station and had failed to review whether there were any crews still out looking for the girls.

By 8pm there were none.

One crew which had been searching was sent by the COMCO to a domestic violence incident at 6.58pm at The Range but did not resume searching when they finished that job.

Snr Sgt Burgoyne said the COMCO should have spoken to him about whether resources could be redirected to the search.

The inquest is scheduled to run to Friday.

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