NT golfer death preventable: Coroner

A coroner has called for Darwin city council to inspect all trees across its properties after a golfer was killed by a falling branch.


William Brown, 62, died almost a week after being struck by an African Mahogany tree branch during a game at the Gardens Park Golf Links in 2014.

Northern Territory coroner Greg Cavanagh says his death could have been prevented if the tree had been maintained properly.

Mr Brown’s friend Craig Menzies told the inquest how “the tree branch knocked his head to one side and … hit him where your neck joins your shoulder and then pushed him down into the ground”.

Mr Brown became a quadriplegic and six days later decided not to continue with life support because of his poor rehabilitation prospects and inability to breathe independently.

This is not the first time an African Mahogany tree has killed someone.

Year four student Aidan Bott died when a branch fell on his head at his Darwin school in 2006.

In the case of Mr Brown, Mr Cavanagh said both the council and Perry Park Pty Ltd, which leases the golf course, knew about the risks posed by the tree.

But neither inspected or maintained it properly because they disagreed about whose job it was.

“To leave that particular tree as it was, in the location in which it was, without any protective measures being put in place for patrons was, in the broader sense, negligent,” Mr Cavanagh said on Thursday.

“I have little doubt that this death was preventable if there had not been that negligence.”

Mr Cavanagh said all trees on council properties should be inspected by a qualified arborist at least twice a year.

He also called on the council and Perry Park Pty Ltd to clarify who was responsible for maintaining trees on the golf course.