7 Mar 2023

Lachlan Jones case: Police tight-lipped after Gore council fined $129,000

5:20 pm on 7 March 2023
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Photo: RNZ / Patrice Allen

Police are refusing to address the concerns of the father of Gore toddler Lachlan Jones.

The three-year-old was found dead in a Gore District Council sewage pond in January 2019.

He was believed to have accidentally drowned after wandering off from his home.

But his father Paul Jones did not accept police's version of events.

He suspected foul play.

The Gore District Council was yesterday ordered to pay $55,000 in reparation to each of Lachlan's parents as well as about $19,000 in legal costs over the death.

WorkSafe initially charged the council with failing to comply with a duty that exposed people to the risk of death or serious injury.

In late December, the council pleaded guilty to a downgraded charge of failing to perform a duty.

Jones told the court he did not hold the council responsible for his son's death.

Later, outside court, he called for police to re-open the investigation.

"I ask, that from today onwards, that this case be re-opened by the police and I now ask [Police Commissioner] Andrew Coster to come front me," he told reporters.

He was pleased to put the WorkSafe prosecution behind him.

"Now I can move on to finding out what actually did happen to my son. I've had two substandard police investigations - police are saying that my son drowned. I have now the proof that the pathologist should never have come to that scenario."

RNZ asked police whether they would re-open the investigation, whether Coster would meet with Jones, and for a response to Jones' claim there was evidence his son did not drown.

In a single-line emailed response attributed to Southland Area Commander Inspector Mike Bowman, police said: "The matter is now with the coroner and as such police are not in a position to make any further comment at this time."

Jones did not believe the investigation of the cause of his son's death should sit with the coroner.

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