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Sarah Traynor

Losing a child to a tragic accident is undoubtedly a terrible thing and  but unless it is entirely necessary I tend to think that then adding to the misery of the family by performing unnecessary dissection of the deceased should be a last resort rather than a matter of routine.


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So I am rather pleased that the courts have stopped the autopsy after all with modern imaging techniques like CAT scans and Magnetic Resonance Imaging  enable forensic examination without mutilation. I may seem like a small thing to some people but if the grief of a family can be eased, even a little by such a small thing then why should it will be denied?

With respect comrades



  1. deknarf says:

    I would have though death by asphyxiation would have been a reasonable explanation. Based on the material presented in the news report I’m with you on this one.

  2. Ray Dixon says:

    I disagree. The words, “the pathologist could not find a reasonable cause of death” are enough to convince me an autopsy could be warranted. The death was unwitnessed … and unusual. If it causes further “distress to the parents” so what? It’d only be minor distress compared to the distress they’ve already suffered, and at least they’d have all suspicion removed. Quite frankly, if it were my child, I’d want no stone left unturned.

  3. Iain Hall says:

    Ray I don’t know how familiar with modern medical imaging techniques but in many instances I would suggest that they make an autopsy unnecessary. Further the child was found entangled with he skipping rope so cause of death would have been pretty obvious to even a layman so why does the poor child have to be mutilated?

    Do you even know what the process is in an autopsy?
    It’s no small thing that is easily forgotten.

  4. Ray Dixon says:

    Iain, I’ll just put the last part of The Australian report up:

    Justice Digby said Sarah and her father, Joseph Traynor, had been playing with the billy-cart he had built her in the backyard, around 3pm on the day of the accident.

    Mr Traynor left to run an errand at 4pm, telling Sarah’s mother, Michelle Websdale, that Sarah was still in the backyard.

    Five minutes after he left, a friend visited Ms Websdale.

    When Mr Traynor returned he found Sarah hanging from the skipping rope looped over a bar on the swingset.
    He called triple zero but Sarah died in hospital.

    Justice Digby revealed Mr Traynor said in his affidavit he was “unable to bear the thought of an autopsy being performed” on Sarah.

    Ms Websdale wrote of ”just wanting her daughter back so she can bury her”.

    Justice Digby ordered the coroner to release Sarah’s body to her parents as soon as possible.

    Earlier, Fiona Ellis, for coroner Heather Spooner, had argued more details were necessary on the unwitnessed death in “extremely unusual circumstances”.

    A forensic pathologist who examined Sarah’s body the day after the accident had been unable to find a reasonable medical cause of death, Ms Ellis said on Friday.

    There’s enough doubt in that to justify further examination as to cause of death in my opinion. My guess is there’ll be a coroner’s inquest over this and, in that case, not doing an autopsy would be remiss.

  5. Iain Hall says:

    I totally agree that every possible investigation of a suspicious death is warranted but in this case the child died of strangulation with a ligature, namely her skipping rope, a post mortem cat scan would detail that cause of death just as well as dissecting her body,maybe even better there is simply nothing new to be learned by eviscerating her corpse. Even toxicology can be considered with less invasive processes than an autopsy.

  6. Ray Dixon says:

    I’d go with the coroner here, who refers to the forensic pathologist. Neither the Judge, you or I are medically qualified to state categorically the cause of death, yet the opinion of those who are qualified is being over-ridden. Autopsy sounds terrible but once you’re dead, you’re dead and a body rots in the ground (or is burnt) anyway so what does a dissection matter?

  7. Iain Hall says:

    But the Judge has the power to make the ruling that he has made on this matter Ray and I think that it is the right ruling, that said I feel strongly about this because I have had the unpleasant first hand experience of having to identify a younger brother’s body, read the autopsy report and to attend the coroner’s inquest into his death I know what it is like to experience the rituals of an unexpected death, which is why I think that the little things matter and if we as a society have the power to make that terrible journey of grief easier by performing full body medical imaging rather than dissection why shouldn’t we do just that?

    What the likes of the pathologist is doing here is protecting their place in the process, after all if they don’t have so many autopsies to perform won’t the state decide to employ fewer of them?

  8. Ray Dixon says:

    Well I understand you would feel emotional about the issue then, Iain, and fair enough. Unfortunately though, these matters should not be decided on emotion, which is exactly what the Judge seems to have done.

  9. Iain Hall says:

    Ray, there is apparently no suggestion of foul play here or I would agree with you and in the absence of foul play where is the necessity for more than has been done?

  10. Ray Dixon says:

    There might not be foul play in this case, Iain, but according to an ABC report, the lawyer for the parents is now claiming this decision sets a pecedent for people to prevent autopsies being carried out on their relatives in future … and that might mean that in future someone will use it to cover up a murder.

  11. Iain Hall says:

    I doubt that Ray but even if it were so medical imaging would not be prevented and that can , as I have suggested, tell more about a cause of death that your standard autopsy anyway.

  12. […] readers may recall that I was arguing that modern medical imaging technologies may well make the more traditional dicective…well it seems that I was right and that in Switzerland that is already […]

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