O’Reilly’s Real Estate employees Leisa Richardson, Briny Hawkes and Jana Hawkes leave the court after testifying during the inquest into the death of Isabella Diefenbach.
O’Reilly’s Real Estate employees Leisa Richardson, Briny Hawkes and Jana Hawkes leave the court after testifying during the inquest into the death of Isabella Diefenbach. Emma Mcbryde

Agency didn't see building report

A BUILDING report recommending the fixing of a rotting deck that later caused the death of a baby, was never seen by the real estate agency that commissioned it, a court heard yesterday.

O'Reilly's Real Estate forwarded the report unread to the house owner, in line with the agency's policy, senior property manager Briny Hawkes testified.

Adam and Jennifer Diefenbach began renting the Yeppoon house from Damien Lagos through O'Reilly's in November 2009.

Their seven-week-old child Isabella died on May 29, 2010, from a 3m fall when a wooden floorboard on the deck collapsed under Adam and she slipped from his arms.

Mr Lagos's defence lawyer, Jeff Clarke, said his client maintained he never saw the report.

Ms Hawkes yesterday took the witness stand on the third day in the coronial inquest into the death of Isabella, known by her family as "Bella".

Ms Hawkes testified the inspection was organised after Ms Diefenbach complained of termites in the house when the couple first moved in.

But Ms Hawkes said when the report was completed no one at the agency read it and it was considered the "owner's responsibility".

She said O'Reilly's policy was that building reports be forwarded on to owners, as employees had no building qualifications.

Counsel assisting the coroner, Ainslie Kirkegaard, said the detailed report recommended a builder be consulted to prevent further decay of the wood.

Coroner Annette Hennessy questioned Ms Hawkes on how the agency and the tenants would know the details of reports if only the owners read them.

Ms Hawkes said it was a system "that should be looked at".

Mrs Diefenbach earlier this week testified she had complained to O'Reilly's more than a dozen times since moving in.

O'Reilly's property manager who worked underneath Ms Hawkes and assisted the Diefenbachs during their tenancy, Hannah Matheson, yesterday said she contacted Mr Lagos about the deck.

She said Mr Lagos told her he had a friend who was waiting for materials to fix it.

Ms Matheson testified that she often had difficulty contacting Mr Lagos - once he was out of the country and other times he was often on night shift.

O'Reilly's principals, Ross and Judy O'Reilly, are expected to take the witness stand today.



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