WE MAY NEVER KNOW HOW SIMONE DIED
By ZOE SATHERLEY and ALEX EASTON
THE mystery of how German tourist Simone Strobel died may never be solved, the Sydney Coroner's office has revealed.
Forensic experts are struggling to find an answer to the question plaguing the Northern Rivers because her body was so badly decomposed.
Police have been running an investigation since Ms Strobel's disappearance shocked Lismore in mid-February. However, they have been unable to say whether they are pursuing a murder investigation because of delays in getting full post-mortem results.
Now Sydney Coroner's Court registrar, Danielle Comarond, has said an open finding on the cause of death is a definite possibility.
"If you can't find anything, you can't find anything," Ms Comarond said.
"At the moment we haven't even got a cause of death. I imagine the forensic pathologists will be sitting there scratching their heads.
"You can ask for the results to be fast-tracked but that doesn't mean much. You could still be waiting for months and the coroner may still return an open finding."
An open finding would mean the coroner could not say how Ms Strobel died.
Richmond Local Area Command crime manager, Inspector Anne Langford, yesterday refused to speculate on what impact an open finding would have on the police investigation into Ms Strobel's death.
Insp Langford said police had been ordered by Lismore coroner Michael Knock not to comment on anything related to the post-mortem examination.
However, she said the investigation presently remained in full swing and police were planning a series of operations in the coming weeks to help solve the case.
Ms Comarond said it usually took months for post-mortem results to be returned, but Ms Strobel's case had been complicated by the state of her body, which was not found by police until six days after she went missing.
"The post-mortem was done less than a month ago and no-one gets results back that quickly. Even in a run-of-the-mill case, results take at least three months," Ms Comarond said.
"This is a much more difficult case because the body was severely decomposed. It's hard to determine anything."
Ms Comarond's comments came as Lismore mayor Merv King and Lismore MP Thomas George called for the post-mortem to be fast-tracked.
They also follow comments from Mr Knock, who revealed he asked NSW Coroner John Abernethy to personally intervene and get the post-mortem report issued as soon as possible.
But Ms Comarond said that may not be possible.
Four forensic pathologists were employed to do the examinations and had a heavy workload, with some working days and nights to deal with the backlog of work.
Many cases had to wait more than 12 months for full results, she said.
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