• Raymond Noel Lindsay Thomas died during a police pursuit on June 25, 2017. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
Gunnai, Gunditjmara, and Wiradjuri man Raymond Thomas had been driving home from Woolworths when he lost his life in a police pursuit.
By
Madeline Hayman-Reber

Source:
NITV News
18 Oct 2019 - 2:42 PM  UPDATED 18 Oct 2019 - 2:43 PM

The Coroner's Court of Victoria is again set to examine the state’s police practices, after a pursuit in 2017 led to the death of 29-year-old Raymond Thomas.

The Gunnai, Gunditjmara and Wiradjuri man had been driving home from Woolworths in Melbourne’s Preston South at around 11pm on June 25.

While it has been revealed that he was driving an unregistered vehicle, it remains unclear why police initially made the decision to follow him.

The officers allegedly saw Mr Thomas turning in to a street in Northcote, and while they did not see a collision, they observed debris on the road, which they believed to be from Mr Thomas’ car and began the pursuit.

It ultimately resulted the fatal car accident that ended Mr Thomas’ life a short distance from his home.

In a statement the family said they want justice for their son, and more police accountability.

"As big and as strong as he was, Raymond had a caring nature and a beautiful soul. He was affectionately called the gentle giant by his family, friends and community," his family said in a statement.

"We as a family and a community now carry that same grief and pain that many Indigenous families and communities around the country have had to endure. The loss of a child, a brother, a nephew, a cousin, and a friend.

"We want justice for our son. Hopefully accountability will result through this process, and changes can be made to prevent any other family having to experience what we have since his passing."

The Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service (VALS) is representing the family.

While the scope of the inquest has not yet been defined, VALS said it will be seeking recommendations from the Coroner regarding Victoria police pursuit policy, with a view to work with Victoria police and the state government to implement the recommendations.

"VALS notes that the Coroner has previously made recommendations to limit pursuits in certain circumstances, which were implemented by Victoria Police, then removed prior to Raymond's death," VALS CEO, Nerita Waight said.

"Raymond's family will be asking the Coroner to make recommendations to limit pursuits in circumstances similar to those that resulted in Raymond's death."

A second directions hearing set to take place in the lead up, with the court requesting more evidence, due to discrepancies and gaps in what has so far been tendered.

"VALS and the family have serious concerns about the police investigation into the death of Raymond Jnr, including that all relevant evidence was not investigated or preserved for the Coroner's consideration," Ms Waight said. 

"This is yet another instance of demonstrating that an independent body, such as IBAC, should investigate police contact deaths."

A date for the inquest has been set for April 20, 2020.