Tas cop's welfare paramount, inquest told

The mental wellbeing of a beloved Tasmanian police officer who took his own life was considered paramount during return-to-work processes, a colleague has told an inquest.

Sergeant Robert Anthony Cooke, 49, died by suicide at his home in October 2020 after serving in the force for some three decades.

An inquest is examining his death, as well as the suicides of Constable Paul Hunt, Senior Sergeant Paul Reynolds and Constable Simon Darke.

It was previously told Sgt Cooke had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder the year before his death and he was worried about whether he could return to work at his rural posting in Oatlands.

Inspector Philippa Burk, who was involved in officer rostering and signed off on Sgt Cooke's participation in return-to-work programs, gave evidence on Friday.

When asked about January 2020 correspondence with Sgt Cooke, she said she always made it clear that the position at Oatlands was his to return to.

"Whether he comprehended, I can't answer that. It was made clear the whole time along," she said.

"(Whatever) I did do the whole way through, Sgt Cooke's wellbeing and welfare were paramount. That was the absolutely ultimate thing, to make sure he was alright."

The inquest has been told exposure to trauma, overwork and sleep deprivation contributed to Sgt Cooke's post-traumatic stress disorder.

Sgt Cooke in May 2020 told a colleague he was worried the diagnosis would prevent him from returning to work and he was finding it difficult to walk away.

Counsel assisting the coroner, Cameron Lee, described the father of two as someone who was generous with his time and highly supportive of his workmates.

The inquest, expected to run for another fortnight, resumes on Monday.

It is investigating policy and procedures of Tasmania Police in respect to the standing down, suspension and termination of officers, as well as the organisation's welfare and fatigue-management programs.

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