Lawsuit over death of jillaroo student adjourned

FAMILY: Juliana and Mark Waugh, whose daughter, Sarah, died in a horse riding accident, with their son, Jonathan, outside Glebe Coroners Court in Sydney in December last year. Picture: JANIE BARRETT Sarah Waugh, 18, who died after falling from a horse in Dubbo in March 2009. She was doing a Jillaroo course with Dubbo TAFE ahead of vet studies and was given a former racehorse to ride.

LAWYERS for TAFE’s Western Institute are still examining evidence from the inquest into the death of Newcastle teenager Sarah Waugh, a Newcastle court heard yesterday.

Members of Ms Waugh’s family are suing the TAFE after the former Newcastle Grammar School student suffered fatal head injuries when she fell from a horse that bolted during a jillaroo course on March 24, 2009.

The civil case was mentioned during a district court callover yesterday where counsel for the TAFE, Michael Weightman, said there was a significant amount of ‘‘liability evidence’’ from the coronial inquest that still needed to be examined.

The case has been adjourned to March next year.

Deputy State Coroner Sharon Freund was damning of TAFE when she delivered her findings on Ms Waugh’s death in December last year.

Ms Freund said the TAFE did not properly assess the suitability of horses for beginner riders that were supplied by a contractor and made ‘‘no meaningful risk assessment’’ of the contract with the supplier.

Ms Freund called for an audit and overhaul at the TAFE after stating that the college failed to properly investigate the death.

Ms Waugh, 18, took part in the course near Dubbo as part of her efforts to become a country vet, the inquest heard.

She was riding a four-year-old thoroughbred, that bolted, causing Ms Waugh to slip from the stirrups and fall.

Ms Freund ruled the horse was not suitable for beginner riders.

As well as the civil suit, WorkCover is investigating the institute’s role in the death and may prosecute the college under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The jillaroo course has been suspended.

The civil case, where several of Ms Waugh’s family, including her mother Juliana, are suing the TAFE, was adjourned to allow the institute time to serve evidence on the Waughs.