Parents battle autopsy after skipping rope tragedy

Last updated 15:43 30/11/2012

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The parents of a seven-year-old girl who died in a tragic backyard skipping rope accident are taking court action to stop the Victorian coroner from performing an autopsy on her body.

Sarah Traynor, who has been described by her devastated parents as a "lovable little girl", died earlier this month after getting tangled in a skipping rope that was tied to a swing in the backyard of her Bairnsdale home in Victoria's Latrobe Valley.

Sarah's father, Joe Traynor, and his sister found her tangled in the rope on November 21. She was unable to be revived.

In Victoria's Supreme Court on Friday, a lawyer acting on behalf of Mr Traynor and Sarah's mother, Michelle Websdale, argued little could be gained from performing an autopsy and her family should be able to bury her intact.

Ian Freckelton, SC, argued Sarah's identity was already known, as was the cause of her tragic death with no indication of foul play, so nothing would be gained by the "intrusive dissection of her body" aside from it causing unnecessary distress to her family.

"The child died in unusual circumstances in a tragic and distressing way and there is minimal to be gained and no necessity to perform actions of this intrusive kind," Dr Freckelton said.

He said was no reason why a finding could not be made that she had died of constriction of the neck "quite adequately without the gratuitous causing of distress to her parents".

"It is utter speculation that it (an autopsy) is going to provide any information that will be useful."

But Fiona Ellis argued an autopsy was necessary for the coroner to fulfil its statutory obligation in determining the cause of the death of a "young child who died in extremely ... unusual circumstances" and provide recommendations, wherever possible, that could prevent any further deaths the same way.

Ms Ellis, for coroner Heather Spooner, also noted the fact Sarah had been a healthy girl before her death, and that her hanging had not been witnessed by anyone, were among several relevant factors in the case.

Justice Geoffrey Digby will hand down his decision on Monday.

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