Inquest told 425kg monument fell on girl
A waitress claims a young boy was riding a sandstone war memorial like a horse before the 425 kilogram headstone toppled over on top of a three-year-old girl, killing her.
Lisa Robbins told Newcastle Local Court on Monday a group of children were running around the monument when she saw the boy, aged about 10, sitting on top of the headstone "rocking back and forwards, just like he was riding a horse".
Deputy state coroner Liz Ryan is investigating the death of Indy Lee Henderson, who was killed on Saturday, November 26, 2016, at Blackhead Bowling Club between Forster and Taree on the NSW mid-north coast.
The inquest is expected to focus on the decision to build the war memorial monument, its construction and maintenance.
Indy, from the western Sydney suburb of Airds, had been attending a 50th birthday party for her grandmother, Shiralee Walker.
The coroner told Ms Walker and Indy's mother, Tamica Harrower, that she knew Indy was a much-loved little girl and hoped the inquest would provide answers about what happened on that day in the gardens of the bowling club at Hallidays Point.
Ms Robbins told the court she had just finished her shift at 7pm and was having a drink when she saw the boy straddling the monument.
"I didn't think it looked safe. I thought he might fall off and hurt himself," Ms Robbins said.
The waitress said she was watching for only a few minutes when the boy did fall off and a lot of people were suddenly running towards the monument.
Ms Robbins said she saw the headstone topple over but did not see what happened to Indy.
Another witness, Lavinia Cronin, said she saw a number of children on top of the monument, swinging off it.
Counsel assisting the coroner, Anna Mitchelmore SC, had earlier told the inquest Indy had been described by her mother as a "happy kid, always laughing and having a joke".
Ms Mitchelmore anticipated evidence given during the inquest would show the monument's headstone was "structurally unstable" when it collapsed and fell on top of Indy.
She said there was conflicting evidence as to how the headstone, which was built in 1997, had been dislodged but it seemed a child or children had been sitting on top of the monument and "may have been rocking".
Ms Mitchelmore said it appeared the headstone was not securely fixed to the monument's base before toppling over on to Indy.
Indy was taken to the Manning Rural Referral Hospital but could not be saved.
"The critical issue in this inquest relates to how the headstone was fixed to the base," Ms Mitchelmore said.
She said it appeared silicone was used as the only fixing agent, not cement mortar.
The inquest resumes on Tuesday.
© AAP 2018