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CORONER’S COURT OF NEW SOUTH WALES
Inquest into the suspected death of missing person Max Day
Hearing dates: 17 July 2020
Date of findings: 17 July 2020
Place of findings: Coroner’s Court of New South Wales at Lidcombe
Findings of: Magistrate Derek Lee, Deputy State Coroner
Findings: On the available evidence, I find that Max Day is now deceased.
Max died on a date unknown sometime after 25 January 2017. However, the
available evidence and the absence of any postmortem examination does not
allow for any finding to be made as to the place of Max’s death, or as to
the cause and manner of his death.
1.1 Max Day was last seen alive by his wife in the early hours of the
morning on 7 January 2017. The previous day Max had been involved in an
alleged domestic violence incident at his home which resulted in the
attendance of police officers. After orders were made preventing Max from
returning to live at home, he was last seen by police officers on the
afternoon of 7 January 2017 when he indicated that he had limited financial
means and no permanent place to live. Following a report by a member of the
public who knew Max, he was last confirmed as having been seen alive on 25
1.2 After Max was reported as a missing person, police officers conducted
extensive searches and enquiries in an attempt to gather any information in
relation to Max and his whereabouts. Regrettably, despite these attempts, no
evidence has been identified to date in relation to what happened to Max
after 25 January 2017.
2. Why was an inquest held? 2.1 In April 2019, after all lines of enquiry to
locate Max had been exhausted, the NSW Police Force (NSWPF) notified the
Coroner’s Court that Max was suspected of being deceased. When the case of a
missing person, who is suspected to have died, is reported to a coroner, the
coroner must determine from the available evidence whether that person has
in fact died. In such cases there will often be very little information,
despite extensive enquiries, about what happened to the person after they
were last seen alive.
2.2 If the coroner forms the view that a missing person has died then the
coroner has an obligation to make findings in order to answer questions
about the identity of the person who died, when and where they died, and
what the cause and the manner of their death was. The manner of a person’s
death means the circumstances in which that person died. If the coroner is
unable to answer these questions then an inquest must be held.
2.3 In Max’s case, extensive investigation was conducted by the police
concerning the circumstances surrounding the period both before and after
when he was last seen alive. However, this investigation was unable to
reveal exactly what happened to Max after 25 January 2017. As it has not
been possible to answer the questions that a coroner is required to answer,
it became mandatory for an inquest to be held.
2.4 In this context it should be recognised at the outset that the operation
of the Coroners Act 2009 (the Act), and the coronial process in general,
represents an intrusion by the State into what is usually one of the most
traumatic events in the lives of family members who have reported a loved
one as missing. At such times, it is reasonably expected that families will
wish to attempt to cope with the consequences of such a traumatic event in
private. The sense of loss experienced by family members does not diminish
significantly over time. Therefore, it should be acknowledged that both the
coronial process and an inquest by their very nature unfortunately compel a
family to re-live distressing memories and to do so in a public forum.
3. Max’s life
3.1 As will be discussed later in these findings, all of the evidence
gathered to date suggests, tragically, that Max is now deceased. Inquests
into the deaths of persons, even those persons who are missing and suspected
of being deceased, by their very nature only tend focus on the last moments
of a person’s life, or the last moments when they were seen alive. These
moments are sometimes measured in weeks or months, but more often they are
measured in hours and days. As a consequence, often there is very little
known about the (usually) years of life that preceded these final moments.
Therefore, it is appropriate at this stage to recognise Max’s life in a
brief, but hopefully meaningful, way.
3.2 Max was born on 28 October 1963. He had a sister, Leanne, and was the
youngest child of Ann Maree Swan and William Day. Max’s father left home
about 10 months after Max was born and had no further involvement in Max’s
life. Ms Swan later formed another relationship with Stan Honan, and they
had a daughter, Tracey, together. When Max was about seven years old his
mother moved to Warrawong and Max remained in the care of his maternal
grandmother and step-grandfather. Ms Swan later moved back from Warrawong
however Max continued to live with his grandparents, only spending time with
his mother on weekends.
3.3 The available information indicates that when Max was 18 or 19
years old he experienced a relationship breakdown of his own, that appears
to have resulted in a deterioration in Max’s mental health. This
deterioration resulted in an admission to hospital followed by a period
where Max was under the care of a psychologist.
3.4 Max met his eventual wife, Eileen, when she was 16 years old and they
were both living in Dapto. They both had an interest in taking their dogs to
shows, and would see each other at these events. Some years later Max
contacted Eileen and they later formed a relationship. They became engaged
and later married in November 1993. At the time Max was working as a truck
driver. Their first daughter, Caley-Ann, was born in December 1994.
3.5 The family later moved from Dapto to Wingello, and Max found new
employment with Australia Post as a postal transport coordinator. Whilst
living in Wingello, Max and Eileen had their second daughter, Ashleigh, in
January 1998, followed by a son, Danial, in April 2001. The family later
moved to Greenwich Park, then Merriganowry, and finally to Gooloogong where
they bought a 330 acre property named “Tower Hill”.
3.6 During this time Max continued to work for Australia Post, but was
commuting back and forth to Sydney, and would often only be home every
second night. Whilst living at Gooloogong Max and Eileen decided that he
would stay at home with the children to assist with their care and the
distance education they were receiving at the time. Eileen later found
employment as the Assistant Principal at Cowra Public School, before later
being offered the position of Principal at Dubbo West Public School. The
family later moved to Peak Hill.
3.7 In the years that have passed since 2017 it is evident that Max is
greatly missed by those closest to him. It is most distressing to know that
the uncertainty that has surrounded the events on and after 6 January 2017
has only added to the tremendous sense of loss and uncertainty experienced
by Max’s family.
4. Events leading up to January 2017
4.1 In the six months leading up to January 2017, Eileen observed a change
in Max’s demeanour. He was noted to be increasingly argumentative and short
tempered, resulting in him sleeping in a spare room for several nights. Max
was also observed to demonstrate unusual behaviour such as wearing a large
hunting knife in a sheath on his belt, and was often heard to be talking to
4.2 It was also noted that during this period Max increased his alcohol
consumption, regularly drinking either homebrewed beer or store bought wine.
Eileen reported several instances of returning home from work to find Max
intoxicated and having difficulty walking. Max’s change in behaviour
concerned Eileen to the extent that she raised with him the possibility of
there being an underlying and emergent mental health condition that was
affecting his behaviour. However, Max was resistant to the suggestion of
seeking medical advice to investigate this possibility further.
5. The events of 6 and 7 January 2017
5.1 At around 4:40pm on 6 January 2017 Max became involved in a verbal
argument with Danial in the dining room at home. Max was wearing his hunting
knife on his belt at the time and reportedly approached Danial with one hand
on the knife. Max came within a metre of Danial before Eileen, who was also
in the room at the time, intervened and stood between them. The incident was
reported to police, who attended the house later that evening.
5.2 On arrival Max was found standing near a vegetable patch using a large
knife to cut corn kernels. The police officers told Max to put the knife
down and he complied. One of the officers observed what he described as a
“strange distant look” on Max’s face and formed the opinion that Max may
have been experiencing a mental health episode.2 It was noted that Max was
speaking slowly and providing vague answers in relation to questions being
asked by the police officers. As a result, the police officers formed the
view that Max ought to be detained under section 22 of the Mental Health Act
2007, and he was taken to Peak Hill Hospital for assessment.
5.3 During the assessment Max indicated that he had no thoughts of
self-harm. Shortly after midnight on 7 January 2017 Max was returned to
police custody and taken to Peak Hill police station. There he was charged
with one count of common assault and scheduled to appear at Peak Hill Local
Court on 13 January 2017. Max was also served with a provisional apprehended
domestic violence order, some of the conditions of which prevented him from
entering the family home, and from threatening or intimidating Danial and
5.4 At around 2:30am on 7 January 2017, Max was escorted home by
police officers so that he could gather some of his belongings. Max
collected some clothes (possibly some pairs of jeans and Tshirts), and his
diary. Eileen noted that Max simply smiled and collected his belongings
without speaking to her. The police officers indicated to Max that Eileen
was offering him $50 and some bedding material, but he informed the officers
that his family should keep the items and that they would need them more
than he would. The police officers assisted Max to load his belongings into
his car, a green Ford Falcon sedan (the green Falcon).
5.5 At around 5:00pm later that day, the police officers who had dealt with
Max the previous day saw the green Falcon parked in the truck rest bay on
the Newell Highway, approximately two kilometres from Parkes township. The
police officers spoke to Max who indicated that he was attempting to obtain
some emergency money from Centrelink. The police officers observed that Max
was again behaving unusually and that his mood was “extremely level” given
that he had no place to reside. Max indicated that he was going to sleep at
the truck stop for a couple of days and work out what he was going to do
6. The events between 7 and 25 January 2017
6.1 At around 10:06am on 8 January 2017 Max attended Parkes Hospital
emergency department, complaining of abdominal pain and a severe headache.
According to available records, Max was given medication for symptomatic
relief and later left the hospital. Subsequently obtained CCTV footage
showed Max leaving the hospital in the green Falcon at around 2:26pm and
heading along the Newell Highway towards Forbes.
6.2 Shortly before 6:00am on 9 January 2017 Kim Bokeyar, an employee of the
Woolworths in Forbes, arrived at work and saw that the green Falcon was
parked in her usual parking spot. Ms Bokeyar saw that the green Falcon
remained in the same location each time she went to work between 9 and 18
January 2017. When Ms Bokeyar returned to work on 23 January 2017 the green
Falcon was still in the same location. On 25 January 2017 Ms Bokeyar
reported to police that the green Falcon appeared to have remained in the
same position for the previous 16 days.
6.3 Max subsequently failed to attend court on 13 January 2017 as required
and was convicted in his absence. He was fined, and final orders were made
in relation to an apprehended domestic violence order for a period of 12
6.4 On 20 January 2017 Eileen contacted Peak Hill police station to advise
that she had received a letter from Peak Hill Local Court, which appeared to
relate to Max’s scheduled appearance seven days earlier. Eileen was advised
that Max had not appeared at court and the matter was dealt with in his
absence. Eileen said that she believed that Max would be able to return home
after his court matter was finalised. She expressed concern that she had
been unable to contact Max, as he had not taken his phone with him on 7
January 2017, and had assumed that Max had not contacted her in the interim
because he was still angry. Eileen told police that the only place that she
could think of that Max would go would be the Tower Hill property. A formal
report was made of Max being missing.
6.5 Arrangements were subsequently made for local police to attend Tower
Hill to see whether Max was there. It was later reported that no persons
were seen at the house, and that the premises did not appear to have been
visited recently. Further, although livestock were seen at the house, it
appeared that they had not recently been cared for.
6.6 Following the report made by Ms Bokeyar, Police attended the Woolworths
in Forbes and searched the green Falcon. No clothing or personal property
was found within the vehicle, although paperwork in relation to Max’s
scheduled court appearance on 13 January 2017 was located in the glove box.
Further, police found the vehicle’s keys, which appeared to have been
deliberately placed under a mat on the driver side foot well. Although the
vehicle was parked under a light post with a CCTV camera, subsequent police
enquiries revealed that the cameras had not been operational for some time.
However, CCTV footage was obtained from a nearby business which recorded a
vehicle matching the description of the green Falcon entering the Woolworths
car park at 2:46pm on 8 January 2017. According to police, this is
consistent with Max leaving Parkes Hospital on the afternoon of 8 January
2017 at 2:26pm as the distance between the hospital and the Woolworths in
Forbes is approximately 20 minutes.
6.7 At around 7:00am on 25 January 2017, Brian Miller was driving to work at
a farm between Eugowra and Gooloogong. Shortly after passing a bridge just
beyond Forbes township Mr Miller came across a man hitchhiking by the side
of the road and carrying a backpack. Mr Miller stopped his vehicle and
enquired where the man was going. The man indicated that he was headed to
Gooloogong, and Mr Miller offered to give him a lift.
6.8 Once the man got into the vehicle and took his hat off Mr Miller
recognised him as Max. Mr Miller had previously met Max and his family when
they had attended his farm in order to buy livestock feed. During the drive
to Gooloogong Max informed Mr Miller that his car had just broken down and
that he had separated from Eileen. Max indicated that he was returning to
his former property (Tower Hill) in Gooloogong, and asked Mr Miller if there
were any employment opportunities available at the farm where Mr Miller
worked. Mr Miller told Max that there was no work currently available but
suggested another farm which might be able to offer employment. Max
indicated that he would enquire at that farm, and others, regarding the
possibility of work. Mr Miller subsequently dropped Max off at the caravan
park in Gooloogong. This is the last confirmed sighting of Max being alive.
6.9 Mr Miller subsequently became aware that Max had been reported as a
missing person, and notified police of his encounter with Max on 25 January
2017. Mr Miller informed the police that, in speaking to Max, he did not
form the impression that Max was unwell or experiencing low mood. Mr Miller
noted that Max appeared to be clean and well groomed.
7. Initial stages of the missing person investigation
7.1 During the initial stages of the missing person investigation, a number
of steps were taken in an attempt to locate Max and identify any evidence as
to his whereabouts. The steps are summarised below:
(a) An alert was placed on the database used by the NSWPF in the event that
Max was stopped whilst driving his vehicle. After checking numberplate
recognition and speed camera records it was determined that Max’s vehicle
had not been recorded travelling north towards Dubbo or south towards West
Wyalong in the period immediately following the report of him being missing.
(b) A state-wide email regarding the report of Max as a missing person was
disseminated to all police officers via an internal police notification
(c) Max’s driver’s licence photograph was obtained from Roads and Maritime
Services so that it could be used in media releases.
(d) A search was conducted by police of the area in and around Goobang
National Park near Parkes.
(e) Further searches were conducted by police at the Parkes Highway caravan
park, the Parkes truck stop area, the North Park mines and surrounds, and
(f) Following the discovery of the green Falcon in the Forbes Woolworths car
park, a number of enquiries were made with welfare organisations in the
(g) Further patrols were conducted by police in the central business
district of Forbes, and the township generally, together with another patrol
of the Tower Hill property.
(h) On 26 January 2017 some personal belongings of Max were collected from
his home for the purposes of forensic examination. Subsequent forensic
examination of a sample taken from the driver’s seat headrest of the green
Falcon identified a DNA profile consistent with belonging to Max.
(i) On 27 January 2017 police conducted a further, comprehensive search of
the property at Tower Hill, and found no evidence that Max had recently been
inside the living premises.
(j) With the assistance of the Forbes State Emergency Service (SES),
police conducted a search of the Forbes lake and ski dam area.
(k) Enquiries with Country Link revealed that Max had not made a
reservation to travel in his own name from Forbes on any NSW TrainLink rail
(l) Enquiries were also made with a grocery store and hotel in Forbes
as to whether Max had attended either location to purchase alcohol.
Employees at both locations had no recollection of seeing Max between 8 and
10 January 2017 and there was no evidence of him on available CCTV records.
(m) On 3 February 2017, following the report made by Mr Miller that he had
given Max a lift on 25 January 2017, police attended the township of
Gooloogong and made a number of enquiries with local businesses and
residents who knew Max. These enquiries did not produce any information as
to Max’s whereabouts.
(n) A further coordinated search of Tower Hill was conducted on 2 March 2017
utilising four wheel drive vehicles, trail bikes and all-terrain vehicles. A
large number of police and SES personnel were involved in the search, with
media invited to attend in order to generate publicity amongst the local
community. No evidence was found that Max had been at the property. Police
subsequently set up two cameras at the property as it was thought that Max
may have been coming and going from the property, but did not want to be
found due to his non-appearance at court on 13 January 2017 and the belief
that warrants may have been issued for his arrest. These cameras were
subsequently checked on 15 March 2017 and did not show anyone attending the
property. Further, Caley-Ann made arrangements for a drone search over a
period of some hours to be conducted over the Tower Hill property on 29
April 2017. Although the bushland within the search area is dense, the
footage obtained by the drone did not produce any evidence useful to the
missing person investigation.
(o) Initial enquiries with Max’s bank (Westpac) on 23 January 2017 revealed
that he had last accessed his account on 20 December 2016 by withdrawing
$20.00 from an automatic teller machine in Parkes, leaving a balance of
$10.00. Inquiries also revealed that Max had not applied for any benefits
from Centrelink after a January 2017.
7.2 Despite the above extensive enquiries being made, no evidence was found
as to Max’s whereabouts, or as to what occurred after he was last seen by Mr
Miller on 25 January 2017.
8. Reported sightings of Max
8.1 As noted above, investigating police used both traditional media and
also social media in order to seek information from the public in order to
locate Max. In response to these publicity campaigns, a number of reported
sightings of Max were made to police. These are summarised, relevantly,
(a) On 4 February 2017, Caley- Ann reported to police that her friend
reported seeing Max in Cowra the previous day. This reported sighting was
shared on the NSWPF Facebook page which elicited a comment from a person
known as “Davies Deb”, who also commented that she saw Max near Cowra
standing near a dark green coloured vehicle. Police attempted to identify
“Davies Deb” without success, and sent her a message on Facebook inviting
her to contact police, which was not responded to. Cowra police were advised
of the reported sighting and provided with a copy of the media release with
instructions to keep a look out for Max during their routine patrols.
(b) On 4 February 2017 an anonymous caller reported seeing a man matching
Max’s description standing with a number of other persons, near a green Ford
Falcon sedan at a location along Lachlan Valley Way towards Cowra. Police
believe the anonymous caller to be “Davies Deb” (as the report was
consistent with the Facebook comment described above) and attempts were made
again to identify the caller or have the caller contact police to confirm
the time and date of the alleged sighting. The police did not receive a
response to their enquiries. However, it was noted by police that the
description given in the anonymous call of the condition of the green Ford
Falcon did not match the condition of Max’s vehicle.
(c) Two anonymous calls were received by police on 6 February 2017
indicating that a man matching Max’s description was seen on 26 or 28
January 2017 signalling cars by the side of the road near Cowra. However
subsequent police enquiries confirmed that the male person in this report
had been spoken to by police and was not Max.
(d) Max was also reportedly seen at the Woolworths in Cowra at around 7:38pm
on 3 February 2017. CCTV footage was subsequently reviewed by police who
formed the view that this was an incorrect sighting.
(e) A member of the public reported seeing a male person matching Max’s
description on the morning of 9 January 2017 along Kangarooby Road near
Gooloogong, walking towards Cowra. Further, there was a second reported
sighting of a male person matching Max’s description at around 12:00pm on 10
January 2017 along Kangarooby Road, about five kilometres from Gooloogong.
Although police considered these to be possible sightings of Max, it is
noted that the alleged sightings of Max at these locations is inconsistent
with him hitchhiking from Forbes to Gooloogong on 25 January 2017.
(f) On 25 April 2017 police received a report that a male person matching
Max’s description had been seen at a cafe in Parkes on 24 April 2017. Cafe
employees were shown a photo of Max and indicated that they had not seen
him. Subsequent police enquiries indicated that it was likely the reported
sighting was of a regular cafe patron. Further enquiries revealed that this
patron had indeed attended the cafe on 24 April 2017.
(g) On 11 June 2017 a report was made to Crimestoppers by a person (Betty
Zdan) who reported seeing a male person resembling Max hitchhiking at the
truck stop on the Newell Highway north of Parkes. Ms Zdan was a real estate
agent who had sold Max and Eileen their house in Peak Hill. When this
information was conveyed to Eileen she confirmed that Ms Zdan had indeed
sold them their home, but expressed disbelief that the real estate agent
would have been able to recognise Max as she had only met him once.
(h) On 12 December 2017 a further report was made that a person resembling
Max had been seen that day at the Woolworths in Forbes speaking to a
Woolworths employee. Subsequent enquiries made by police revealed that the
person who reported the sighting had never met Max and had only seen photos
of him from the media releases. Further, after the Woolworths employee was
shown photos of Max the employee confirmed that the person he was speaking
to was not Max.
(i) A member of the community who had seen the Facebook posts in relation to
Max reported seeing someone matching that description on 21 December 2017
along Clarinda Street in Parkes, heading towards Orange. Subsequent
enquiries by police revealed that the person who reported the sighting had
never met Max, and that he had only recognised a hat that Max was wearing in
a photograph on Facebook. Given this background, and the fact that the
reported sighting occurred over a matter of seconds, police considered it
unlikely that this was an actual sighting of Max.
(j) On 16 April 2018 an anonymous report was made to Crimestoppers in
relation to an alleged sighting of Max between 14 and 15 May 2017 at a
camping area called Sandy Beach Reserve near Hay. Police were unable to
obtain further information regarding the reported sighting other than
identifying that there is no CCTV footage available at the location.
8.2 It is clear from the above that some reported sightings of Max have been
able to be discounted by investigating police. Others, such as the reported
sightings of Max on Kangarooby Road near Gooloogong on 9 and 10 January
2017, have been unable to be confirmed. Despite an extensive traditional and
social media campaign, no evidence has been gathered to suggest that there
has been any confirmed sighting of Max after 25 January 2017.
9. Other steps taken to locate Max
9.1 Since 20 January 2017 the police officer-in-charge of the investigation,
Detective Senior Constable Filiz Kucukakyuz, together with other police
officers, has made a number of enquiries which, in the context of a missing
person investigation, are referred to as “signs of life checks”. These
checks involve enquiries being made with financial institutions, government
organisations such as Medicare, and interstate law enforcement agencies to
identify whether there are any records indicating that a missing person has
had some interaction with these organisations and institutions. These checks
(a) Checks made with Births, Deaths and Marriages registries in New South
Wales and interstate, which did not identify any records relating to Max
after 8 January 2017;
(b) Checks conducted with interstate, Federal and territorial law
enforcement databases and missing persons units which produced no records or
information relating to Max after 8 January 2017;
(c) Checks made with Max’s superannuation provider which revealed no
activity on his account after 8 January 2017 in circumstances where Max was
known to be greatly interested in his superannuation and would check on his
account at regular intervals;
(d) No reported sightings or information forthcoming following media
attention generated during National Missing Persons Week in July/August
2017. Max’s profile was again published during National Missing Persons Week
in 2018 and 2019, with no further information forthcoming;
(e) Checks made with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade which
confirmed that Max had not applied for a passport;
(f) Enquiries made with a number of financial institutions which confirmed
that there had been no activity on Max’s Westpac account since 20 December
2016, and no evidence of any other accounts being opened in his name and/or
being operated by him since this date;
(g) No evidence from Medicare or the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)
records indicating that Max had made any Medicare or PBS claims after 8
January 2017; and
(h) Police made a number of enquiries with Max’s immediate and extended
family members who reported that they had not been contacted by Max, and had
no information as to his whereabouts.
10. Is Max now deceased?
10.1 A finding that a person is deceased is a finding of great significance
and gravity, not only for the family members of that person and the
emotional toll that such a finding will invariably bring, but also because
such a finding carries with it important legal and administrative
consequences. Such a finding is made on the balance of probabilities, but
there must be clear, cogent and exact evidence that a person has died before
it can be made.
10.2 Having regard to the evidence that has been gathered throughout the
course of the missing person and coronial investigation, the following
matters are of significance:
(a) Despite extensive and comprehensive physical, documentary and electronic
searches no evidence has been uncovered as to either Max’s whereabouts or
him being alive after 25 January 2017.
(b) The evidence indicates that in the six months preceding January 2017,
and in particular in the weeks leading up to that date, Max was displaying
behaviour that was out of character. This behaviour concerned Eileen and
raised in her mind the possibility that Max was experiencing an emerging and
undiagnosed mental health condition. Indeed, the events of 6 January 2017
tend to suggest a causal connection between those events and observations of
Max’s behaviour in the preceding weeks and months. Having regard to the
suddenness of Max apparently severing contact with his family members after
7 January 2017, it appears likely that any underlying physical or mental
health condition that may have been present at the time contributed to this
subsequent course of events.
(c) Since 7 January 2017 Max has inexplicably not made contact with any
member of his family. It is acknowledged that the events of 6 January 2017
created a challenging situation for Max and his relationship with his
family, and that the subsequent criminal and domestic violence proceedings
were no doubt stressful for him. This may have led to a situation where, as
Eileen initially believed, Max did not feel comfortable keeping in contact
with family members. However given the length of time that has passed since
these events, the possibility that any discomfort on Max’s part can
reasonably explain the continued absence of any contact with his family has
become increasingly low. Max lived a relatively withdrawn lifestyle, had
little contact with others (outside of his immediate family), was estranged
from some family members and had not seen other family members for many
years. Notwithstanding, the absence of any contact with any family member is
difficult to explain.
(d) The evidence establishes that when he left home in the early hours of
the morning on 7 January 2017, Max had very few personal belongings and
nowhere to live. Indeed, his conversations with police officers on the
afternoon of 7 January 2017 indicate that, at that time, Max had not
formulated any plans as to where he planned to reside. Repeated searches of
the Tower Hill property, the only other known residence that Max had access
to, elicited no evidence that Max had visited the property or that he had
been residing there.
(e) Enquiries made with financial institutions indicate that Max only had
access to a very limited amount of funds and that since 8 January 2017 he
has not sought to access any other funds, or apply for government benefits
in order to support himself.
(f) There is no evidence to indicate that Max had any ability to support
himself financially after 8 January 2017. At the time that he was reported
missing, Max had not been in employment for a period of about 12 years.
Further, police enquiries revealed that Max’s driver’s licence was suspended
on 20 April 2017 due to unpaid fines, without any evidence of the suspension
being lifted or Max applying for a new licence. Given that much of Max’s
previous employment had involved driving, it appears most unlikely that he
would have been able to seek employment in the same industry without a valid
10.3 Having regard to the matters set out above, and taking into
account the absence of any reliable evidence as to Max’s whereabouts or what
happened to him after 25 January 2017, the conclusion that must, sadly, be
reached is that, on the balance of probabilities, Max is now deceased. It is
a significant feature as part of this conclusion that, to date, no confirmed
evidence has been identified that Max is still alive in the three years and
five months since his last confirmed sighting.
11. When and where did Max die, and what was the cause and manner of his
11.1 Having concluded that Max is now deceased, the questions that now
arise, as part of the function of the coronial jurisdiction, is whether the
available evidence allows for any finding to be made as to where and when
Max died, and the cause and manner of his death.
11.2 It is well established that the last confirmed sighting of Max was by
Mr Miller on 25 January 2017. As already noted above, other reported
sightings of Max after this date have either been discounted by
investigating police or unable to be confirmed on the limited available
evidence. As no evidence has been uncovered, despite extensive enquiries, as
to what happened to Max after 25 January 2017 it is not possible to reach
any conclusion, even on the balance of probabilities, as to when he died.
Therefore, the only conclusion that can be reached as to the date of death
is that Max died sometime after 25 January 2017.
11.3 As Max has not been found, and because there is obviously limited
evidence as to what occurred after 25 January 2017 the available evidence
does not allow for any conclusion to be reached as to where Max died, nor as
to the cause and manner of his death. Answers to these questions are
typically dependent upon a person, or their remains, having been found and
identified. In this case, there is no such evidence, which in turn precludes
findings being made in this regard.
11.4 For example, it is not possible to make any finding as to the manner,
or circumstances, of Max’s death. Typically, findings are made in inquests
that a person has died from natural causes, misadventure, or by reason of
third party involvement or contribution. Although Max had no known relevant
medical history that could have contributed to death, it is not possible on
the limited evidence available to exclude, for example, natural disease
process as the manner of death, or to reach a conclusion that Max died as a
result of accident or misadventure.
11.5 Therefore, the available evidence only allows for open findings to be
made in answer to each of the questions as to the place of Max’s death, and
the cause of manner of his death. In doing so it is acknowledged with
sadness that the inability to reach more precise conclusions about these
questions only adds to and compounds the overwhelming uncertainty and sense
of loss that Max’s family have experienced over a number of years.
12.1 Before turning to the findings that I am required to make, I would like
to acknowledge and express my thanks to Ms Simone Kelly, Coronial Advocate,
for her assistance both before, and during, the inquest. I also thank
Detective Senior Constable Kucukakyuz for her role in conducting a
comprehensive police investigation and for compiling the brief of evidence.
12.2 The findings that I make under section 81(1) of the Act are:
Identity The person who died was Max Day.
Date of death Max died on a date unknown sometime after 25 January 2017.
Place of death The available evidence does not allow for any finding to be
made as to the place of Max’s death.
Cause of death The available evidence and the absence of any postmortem
examination does not allow for any finding to be made as to the cause of
Manner of death The available evidence and the absence of any postmortem
examination does not allow for any finding to be made as to the manner of
13.1 On behalf of the Coroner’s Court of New South Wales I extend my
sincere and respectful condolences to Max’s family. In any missing person
investigation it is too simplistic to speak of closure at the conclusion of
an inquest, in circumstances where the unbearable uncertainty and many
unanswered questions that family members have are ongoing. However, it is
hoped that the coronial process has been of assistance in some small way to
Max’s family and those closest to him.
13.2 I close this inquest.
Magistrate Derek Lee
Deputy State Coroner
17 July 2020
Coroner’s Court of NSW