Coronial Inquest into the death of Matthew James BALE
Delivered on: 1 August 2019
Delivered at: Perth
Finding of: Deputy State Coroner King
Suppression Order: N/A
Summary: At the time of the deceasedâ€™s disappearance on the evening of 21 March 2016, he was holidaying at Rottnest Island with his wife and parents. He was fit but had mental health problems.
The deceased had run marathons, had competed in triathlons and was determined to swim the Rottnest Channel swim. However, he had experienced depression and had become an alcoholic in his 20â€™s. He went to rehabilitation providers and psychologists, and he was mostly able to overcome the alcoholism from 2011 onwards. Towards the end of 2014, he used methylamphetamine, which in 2015 resulted in his admission to a residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities.
The deceasedâ€™s experience in rehabilitation left him feeling mentally strong and positive. However, he saw a psychiatrist on 11 March 2016 and reported that he was continuing to use methylamphetamine and had developed a drug-induced psychosis. The psychiatrist noted that deceased had insight into the psychosis and was not suicidal.
On 21 March 2016 the deceased travelled to Rottnest Island with his parents and his wife to spent three nights in Geordie Bay. When they arrived on Rottnest Island they had a meal, went to the shops and then went their unit. After they had gone for a swim, the deceased and his wife went to the local shop to get some things for dinner. The deceasedâ€™s wife smelt alcohol on the deceasedâ€™s breath and confronted him. In his bag was a part bottle of vodka, which she poured down the sink.
The deceased left the unit, upset and agitated. He purchased a cask of wine at the shop. As he was leaving the shop, he met two women and went with them to the beach. He told the women that he wanted to go back to Perth on his own. When they told him that there were no more ferries that day, he said that he would swim back.
The deceased and the women left the beach separately. As the deceased walked up the hill, he saw his father, who had gone to look for him. He told his father that he did not want to speak to him. The deceasedâ€™s father then saw the deceased head towards towards Thompson Bay. That was last time that the deceased was seen.
On 29 March 2016, the deceasedâ€™s wife and mother reported the deceased missing. Police conducted a land search on Rottnest Island without finding any sign of the deceased. A sea search was not conducted. The deceasedâ€™s wife organised a search with volunteers in May 2016 but no sign of the deceased was found.
The Deputy State Coroner was satisfied that the deceasedâ€™s death has been established beyond all reasonable doubt. The Deputy State Coroner found that the deceased entered the waters off the Indian Ocean off Rottnest after which he died from an unknown cause. The Deputy State Coroner found that death occurred by way of misadventure.
Catch Words: Missing Person : Alcohol : Methylamphetamine : Mental Illness : Misadventure.
Report: Matthew James BALE