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Relative admits not seeing Hickey chase, media criticised

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 14 July 2004


A relative of Thomas 'TJ' Hickey has told the coronial inquest investigating the teenager's death that he did not see police chasing him but "put one and one together".

TJ died when he crashed his bike into a metal fence, impaling himself.

Claims that police were chasing TJ when the accident occurred sparked the Redfern riot in inner Sydney earlier this year.

Roy Hickey, TJ's second cousin, told the inquest that on the morning of the accident he saw TJ "shoot past on his bike, cycling like a bat out of hell".

He said he slowed down and turned to his right and saw a police patrol wagon pull up at the gate, do a U-turn in the park and head back up the pathway.

Under cross examination, Roy Hickey conceded that while he had made a statement to police that he saw TJ and the patrol wagon at the same time, he did not see police chasing the teenager but saw him "coming from the same direction".

The inquest also heard that the four police officers who found TJ were so shaken they needed immediate psychological support.

Police Inspector Robert Emery was the first senior officer on the scene and gave evidence today that his first concern was for the welfare of the officers at the accident site, so he called a counsellor.

He also told the inquest he knew the area very well, and did not believe police would have pursued someone down the pathway because it ended in a fence.

Media criticism

Meanwhile, commercial television stations have been heavily criticised by the New South Wales coroner over coverage of the inquest.

Commercial television reports of the only known witness of TJ's accident show Danny Allen running from the inquest yesterday and throwing rocks at cars.

At the inquest, coroner John Abernathy said Mr Allen was a private person who was pursued and hounded into going into yards.

The coroner said he queried the editor that had put that to air.

He said elements of the press were far from responsible, and that the inquest had gone from "fresh crisis to fresh crisis".

He said it was about time the tabloid press showed some respect for the rule of law in New South Wales.

The inquest will resume tomorrow.


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