'Significant suspicions' over NSW boy's death: coroner

There are “significant suspicions” over the death of a five-year-old boy in NSW’s outback following a head injury, but a coroner says there’s not enough strong evidence to refer anyone of interest to authorities.

The boy, from Lightning Ridge, who cannot be named for legal reasons, died in a Sydney hospital on March 24, 2010, due to complications from a blunt force injury to the head.

But in her findings delivered on Tuesday, deputy state coroner Harriet Grahame said an inquest was unable to determine whether the child’s death was the result of an accident or homicide.

It is believed the boy was injured about five days earlier, sometime on the night of March 19 or early on March 20, but his family’s accounts of what happened in his home that evening were “unreliable” and “conflicting”, Ms Grahame said.

There are ‘significant suspicions’ over the death of a five-year-old boy in NSW’s outback following a head injury. Photo: AAP

The partner of the boy’s mother, with whom she has also had children, initially told police he had woken up twice during the night to help the child, who had vomited and then had an accident or “pooed himself”.

The man said he later heard the boy screaming and went to his room to find he was “havin’ a seizure” in his bunk bed and was concerned he may have fallen out of it.

Ms Grahame noted evidence provided by the boy’s mother’s at the inquest “differed in some respects” to her partner’s account, but noted it may have been due to the time that has passed since then.

However, the boy’s family members had shared concerns about the partner’s “unusual” behaviour after the boy’s death, the magistrate said.

They had noted the man cleaned the house and pulled apart the bunk beds before visiting the boy in hospital and showed no emotion while there.