08 April 2014


Two perspectives on the identification of death, following up recent items on changes to the UK presumption of death regime and a US 'death by drowning' identity fraud incident.

The SMH reports that NSW Deputy State Coroner Sharon Freund has ended an inquest into disappearance of Matthew Shirvington after the 'dead' man was reportedly sighted in Queensland.

Freund reportedly found that Shirvington, missing since June last year, faked his suicide and has been working in the Whitsundays under a fake name.

 His car was found abandoned near Moruya Airport with a suspected suicide note inside, sparking extensive searches by police on the far south coast.

His car was filled with empty beer and vodka bottles and a note saying "I'm sorry".

A school friend spotted him working in a cafe at Airlie Beach during December and "called out to him but Mr Shirvington ran off and never returned to the cafe". Let's hope that he's happier

The Illawarra Mercury meanwhile reports that Cairns-based company, Camper Travel, has agreed to refund a $1,850 deposit for a July 2014 trip that won't take place after one of the intending travellers became a shark attack victim.

The victim's husband contacted the company to cancel the booking. The company initially requested proof of his wife's death, then declined to refund the money.

The husband is reported as commenting
The money is irrelevant, my life will go on without the money. I was just going through things and cancelling all our bookings as a matter of courtesy. The company demanded proof, they wouldn't just accept it was in every newspaper.  So I sent them all the evidence and got an email back saying their policy was that the deposit was non-refundable.
Life's tough for small businesses but from a marketing perspective the company appears to have kicked an own goal in asking the widower to send a copy of one of the numerous  newspaper articles about the death within a few days of the incident.

 The company's managing director is reported as commenting "this was wrong and inappropriate", explaining that the company did not have a policy of asking for proof of death but the case was not "escalated" sufficiently quickly to senior management.