Tanya Day inquest: train conductor denies unconscious racism

The train conductor who called police to have Tanya Day removed from a train prior to her death in custody said he did not recall noticing her Indigenous heritage.

The family of Yorta Yorta woman Tanya Day says it is frustrated by a lack of answers as the inquest into the woman's death continues.

A coroner has rejected a request by Tanya Day's family for the immediate and full release of footage of the woman's time in Victorian police custody prior her death.

The 55-year-old grandmother died in December 2017 from a brain haemorrhage after hitting her head five times in a police cell at Castlemaine, following her arrest on a train for public drunkenness.

Tanya Day passed away in December 2017 after being arrested for public drunkenness.
Source: Supplied

Ms Day's family has been pushing for the immediate release of the footage of her time in custody in full.

"We think it's really important for people to see for themselves the treatment that mum had," daughter Belinda Stevens told reporters outside Victorian Coroners Court on Monday.

But coroner Caitlin English on Tuesday ruled against the immediate release of the footage at this time.

"It would not be fair for the witnesses to release the CCTV in full prior to it being played in court," she said.

On Monday, train conductor Shaun Irvine told the inquest into Ms Day's death in 2017 that she had appeared delirious, gave unrelated answers to his questions and he was concerned for her safety.

While she wasn't doing anything wrong, such as being rude or abusive, Mr Irvine believed Ms Day was under the influence of a substance and classified her as "unruly".

"I believed that her safety was threatened by allowing her to continue to travel in the state she was in," he told the court on Monday, citing risks such as falling or tripping.

Ms Day was removed from the carriage by police when the Melbourne-bound train stopped at Castlemaine Station and died in hospital 17 days later.

Confusion over which train driver is heard in a voice recording played yesterday in the Victorian Coroner's Court has left the family of Aunty Tanya Day feeling anxious.

The call recording was between the alleged driver of the train that Ms Day was on, Andrew Mooney, and V/Line's central control requesting police attendance at Castlemaine station.

Mr Mooney was set to appear on the witness stand this morning, however the court was told that he did not believe it was his voice in the call.

V/Line conductor Shaun Irvine was again questioned by lawyers this morning, including the company's lawyer Ben Ihle.

Murmurs could be heard in the courtroom from the family's side when Mr Ihle asked Mr Irvine whether or not he had any Aboriginal friends, and if he could describe his relationship with them.

"That tells us that they're reaching on to anything to paint him as something that he's not. That's the typical line for someone - 'I'm not racist because I have an Aboriginal friend'," Daughter Apryl Watson told NITV News.

Ms. Day's daughter, Apryl Watson.
Source: AAP

"To use that in court is quite disappointing, especially for the fact that if you look at mum you can tell that she has dark skin complexion and thats something that he could not answer to."

Ms Watson said the family is now facing a frustrating and hurtful experience as it seeks answers over the untimely death.

"It seems like all they've got to say is "I can't recall", that's about all we're getting at the moment. You can clearly say that they can recall, it's just something that they don't want to say because they know it's going to paint them in a light that they don't want to be perceived as," Ms Watson said.

Family members, including Tanya's daughter Apryl Watson (centre), march to the Coroners Court.
Source: AAP


Published 27 August 2019 at 11:00am, updated 27 August 2019 at 5:32pm
By Madeline Hayman-Reber