Inquest Update

The last scheduled hearing date for the inquest into Phoebe’s death was 9th October. The Coroner then declared the inquest ‘closed’. He did this after hearing evidence that day from a police telephone analyst and a police computer analyst. The telephone analyst in his evidence, advised that the software program being used by the police at the time of Phoebe’s death was unable to read the SIM card from her iPhone, resulting in an incomplete analysis. He advised that the program they now have would be able to read the SIM card. However the ‘phone handset and SIM card were handed by the police to Antony Hampel a few days after her death. Antony Hampel says the handset is now in the possession of one of his work colleagues and he claims he cannot locate the SIM card.

The computer analyst told the Court he was unfamiliar with the architecture of iMac Apple Mackintosh computers and the ‘encase’ program he was using was not designed to analyse them. He admitted that the ‘log’ files had not been requested and that his examination had been confined by the Coroner to a five day period. Six ‘key’ words had been provided to the police for their ‘word’ search. These words were chosen by Coroner White without consultation with us. We felt that the parameters fixed by the Coroner were too limited and the analysis was inadequate. The iMac computer was not seized from Antony Hampel by the police until four months after Phoebe’s death, yet the search period was five days.

We know that Phoebe’s ‘sent’ email messages had been deleted, her blood was found on the computer and no suicide note was located. We felt that the absence of a note alone, should have led the police to take possession of the computer that night, particularly since they were ostensibly treating the apartment as a ‘crime scene’. We feel that an independent analysis of the computer hard drive is essential to ascertain whether Phoebe wrote something of importance, to ascertain when her emails were deleted and because of the unsatisfactory police analysis. The cost of an independent analysis is estimated to be between twelve and fifteen thousand dollars, payable by us and unrecoverable. We would not be in this position if the police had taken the computer on the night.

On that last day of the inquest, the Coroner granted us access to an ‘image’ of the hard drive for the purpose of independent analysis, but reversed his decision the next day, citing as a reason, Antony Hampel’s entitlement to privacy. It is common ground that Phoebe shared the computer with Hampel. We then requested (and were granted) an opportunity to further argue this matter with the Coroner. He stood fast on his refusal and advised us of this on 28th November. We are now in the process of having his decision reviewed. The Coroners Act decrees that neither privacy considerations nor delay can be allowed to stand in the way of a search for the truth in an inquest.

Natalie – 20th December, 2013

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  1. http://media.heraldsun.com.au/crime_online_pdfs/DetSenConPayne_Statement_1_PhoebeHandsjuk_460510_Redacted.pdf

    On page 351, Detective Senior Constable PAYNE writes that “Detective Senior Constable Steven WADE attended Victoria Police computer crime on my behalf to have 2 x computers examined. One of the computers belonged to the deceased. The examination of the computer revealed; that deceased HANDSJUK ceased using her computer on the 13th of October 2010; That a Form 25 “Application for Release of a Body” was downloaded onto HAMPEL’s computer on the 19th of October, 2010. Investigators believe this date to be incorrect however it has been verified by two separate sources”

    Note that this last sentence could better be phrased, “Investigators believe this date to be incorrect AND it has been verified by two separate sources.” That is, if the date is correct (i.e. the investigators have not misread the date of the file, as 19th of October, 2010), and if the date is also incorrect (i.e. if the document was not downloaded on that date), then the computer date is incorrect. But, by how much was the computer date inaccurate?

    On page 356, Detective PAYNE writes that “Enquiries with Leslie POWELL of the Coroners Court indicate two (2) forms were sent to HAMPEL’s computer on the 7th of December. These forms include… Form 25 “Application to Release of a Body.” The detective continues, “Due to this information it is probable that the dates previously mentioned at the bottom of page 3 [351], indicate the deceased may have used this computer on 6 days before her death. As stated this avenue of enquiry is still ongoing.”

    Detective PAYNE appears to have determined that the Coroners Court date of the 7th of December is reliable, and, that this relates to the computer associated with HANDSJUK on the 13th of October 2010 and with HAMPEL on the 19th of October. So, if the investigators have not misread the date of (Tuesday) 19th of October, and if the document was not downloaded on (Tuesday) 19th of October but rather on (Tuesday) 7th of December, then the date of the computer was out by seven weeks.

    However, whereas the six days between the 13th and the 19th of October was an accurate calculation, PAYNE’s inference that “it is probable… the deceased may have used this computer on 6 days before her death” is wrong. Rather, the accurate 6 days had to be calculated back from the date the Coroners Court sent the forms on the 7th of December. This corresponds to the 1st of December, and not “on 6 days before her death”. (The use of PAYNE’s word “may” appears to corresponds to the sure Victoria Police computer crime determination on page 351 “That deceased HANDSJUK ceased using her computer on the 13th of October 2010” )

    Note further, if the computer date was seven weeks out, then the calculation of “six days” was accurate, and with the possible variation of one day. Because, depending on the *time of day differences* between when “HANDSJUK ceased using her computer” and the “’Application for Release of a Body’ was downloaded onto HAMPEL’s computer, then if the computer was out by seven weeks and *plus or minus hours and minutes*, then this could correspond to the variation of one absolute day. That is, three hours less than 2am is 11pm the day prior, where as three hours less than 9am is 6am the same day. Note that five days before the Coroners Court sent the documents was the 2nd of December.

    If the precise dates “HANDSJUK ceased using her computer on 13th of October 2010”, and “a Form 25 ‘Application for Release of a Body’ was downloaded onto HAMPEL’s computer” (on 19th of October 2010), and “forms were sent to HAMPEL’s computer on the 7th of December” are known – and recall from the clarification above that the investigators have not misread the date of the file, 19th of October – then the precise time that Phoebe last used the computer can be determined. That is, the calculation of 13th of October, 2010 was probably associated with a computer file, with an hour and a minute. Likewise, the 19th of October, 2010 was probably associated with a computer file, with an hour and a minute. And, the 7th of December would have been. With the added hour and second details, the time Phoebe last used the computer could be narrowed to the minute.

  2. Hi there,

    Has a decision been reached on this?

    I am sending love to the family and hope that an ICAC organisation is established for the justice system. Such a shame that a system created for a purpose is failing at its job.

    I am very interested to know how it was inferred that a person could place themselves down this chute>? how has this been addressed?

  3. The testimony that Ant Hampel and Christo Van Egmond were not close friends is so incorrect that just on the face of that they should both be considered unreliable witnesseses and anything else they have said should be disregarded.

    This is such a travesty. I studied under Hampel senior at university and saw first hand the influence the family had over elements of the legal community.

    Unfortunately I think the same has happened here.

    Anthony goes on enjoying his spoilt lifestyle while you grieve your poor daughter.

  4. I sincerely hope that in 2014 Phoebe gets her justice.

    • Natalie Handsjuk says:

      Thank you Cat, for your thoughts and hope for Justice for Phoebe. We hope so too. Regards, Natalie (Phoebe’s mother)