Bushfire deaths inquest begins

Updated November 5 2012 - 4:13am, first published August 29 2007 - 3:06am

THE coronial inquest into the deaths of a father and son killed in the 2006 Grampians bushfires began in Ararat yesterday.
Kenneth Malcolm Wilson or "Milky", 36, and his son Zeke, 12, were killed on the evening of January 22 in bushfires.
Coroner Dyson Hore-Lacy said he was not there to assign blame for the death of the two people.
Mr Hore-Lacy said the court would be primarily looking at the circumstances surrounding the deaths.
He said the main issue would be the road blocks and the power and responsibilities of police when manning roadblocks.
Council assisting the coroner, Graham Thomas, told the court the pair passed through a road block manned by Ararat Police on the Moyston-Pomonal Rd at the Rhymney turn-off just prior to being caught in the fire.
Mr Wilson and Zeke were attempting to reach the family's Pomonal property when they lost their lives.
Thick smoke in the area reduced visibility to nil and just 2km from their destination the vehicle left the road and struck a tree, the inquest heard.
The vehicle was disabled and Mr Wilson and Zeke were forced to take refuge by lowering their car seats to shelter from the heat. But the intensity of the fire was too much as two fire fronts met where the car was stranded.
The bodies of Mr Wilson and Zeke were located later in the evening by Country Fire Authority personnel, severely burnt.
Mr Wilson was found in the driver's seat laying on his back and Zeke in the passenger seat curled up on his left side in the foetal position.
Mr Wilson's former partner and Zeke's mother Sharon Clifford was flanked by family at the front of the court, as Mr Thomas told the court the details of the pair's death. Mr Wilson's mother Norma Wilson sat at the court's
The inquest will continue until tomorrow with evidence centering around police powers in relation to road blocks in cases of bushfires and emergencies.
"There is a suggestion that part of the force's instructions are misleading in relation to the blocking of roads and the like," Mr Hore-Lacy said.
He said he was particularly concerned with how the guidelines applied to children.
The court heard the police who allowed Mr Wilson and his son to pass through the roadblock checked Mr Wilson's driver's licence to confirm he lived in the area and allowed him to proceed on the basis he was going to defend
his property.
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