Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Expert tells Leahy-Arnold inquest of 'highly unusual case

Melanie Petrinec
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
© The Cairns Post

Expert opinion: Pathologist Dr Tony Ansford leaves Cairns courthouse after giving evidence at the inquest into the deaths of Julie-Anne Leahy and Vicki Arnold

THE husband and sister of murder victim Julie-Anne Leahy are due to give evidence today at a third coronial inquiry into one of the Far North's most infamous mysteries.

Their evidence comes after the inquest into the deaths of Mrs Leahy and best friend Vicki Arnold resumed in Cairns Coroner’s Court yesterday, where a pathologist claimed he believed double-murder was the most likely scenario.

Mrs Leahy, 26, and Ms Arnold, 27, were missing for two weeks when their bodies were discovered with gunshot wounds south of Atherton on August 9, 1991. Police and two previous inquests branded the shooting deaths a murder-suicide, but both women’s families have long disputed the theory and lobbied the State Government for a third inquest, which began earlier this month.

Dr Tony Ansford, a pathologist with almost 40 years experience in the field, was the first to examine the women’s bodies and told the inquest yesterday he too doubted the murder-suicide theory. "I’ve always held the view that this was a highly unusual case… and my view has always been there was likely a third party involved," he said.

However, Dr Ansford said he had never been able to "scientifically exclude" murder-suicide.
Dr Ansford also said he believed the site of the fatal wound behind Ms Arnold’s ear was "unusual" for a suicide, but it could not be excluded.

Mrs Leahy’s younger sister, Vanessa Stewart, is scheduled to appear in court this morning.
The court has previously heard evidence of Ms Stewart’s relationship with her sister’s husband, Alan Leahy, after the women were reported missing.  Mr Leahy is due to give evidence at the inquiry this afternoon.  Representatives of the women’s families have been present in court each day since the inquest began before State Coroner Michael Barnes on November 1
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