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Who killed Kirra? Inquest into young mum's mystery death


More than six years after mother-of-four Kirra McLoughlin died in her home outside Gympie, a coronial inquest in the Queensland town will examine how her life ended.

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A pre-inquest hearing on the Gold Coast last month was told the 27-year-old had more than 100 bruises on her body and serious head injuries, when she died.

Emergency services were called to the mother-of-four’s Wolvi home on the afternoon of July 17, 2014, where she was then airlifted from Gympie Hospital to the Gold Coast University Hospital.

McLoughlin was pronounced dead soon after arrival the following day.

A post-mortem examination found her death was caused by a traumatic brain injury.

Mother heard calls on night Kirra injured

Despite years of investigation by police, and interviews with key witnesses, no one has ever been charged over McLoughlin’s death.

A podcast, Beenham Valley Road, in which two former police officers investigate her death, tells how paramedics and hospital staff were first informed by her former boyfriend that she had suffered from a suspected drug overdose of antidepressants and alcohol.

The podcast also detailed how investigating officers were told she had been involved in a physical altercation during a gathering at her property on July 16, which the deceased’s mother Alison Russell disputes.

During the podcast series, Russell discusses being with her daughter’s ex-husband, caring for the couple’s four children on the night McLoughlin sustained the injuries.

She details phone calls she heard between the former husband and wife and their children, which contradict a gathering happening at her daughter’s home, as well as claims she was intoxicated on the evening.

Russell also claims doctors immediately denied her daughter died by drug overdose, with her blood samples returning only small traces of antidepressants and no alcohol.

Further examinations later concluded she instead suffered from more than 100 bruises between her neck and ankles, and died as a result of her head injuries.

Despite McLoughlin’s injuries being well documented, the events that led to them remain disputed and unanswered to this day.

Ex-boyfriend and medical experts to give evidence

A three-day inquest in the Gympie District Court, beginning today will aim to find answers.

The inquest is expected to focus on the days before her death, and why police investigators have so far been unable to unravel what happened and why no charges have been laid.

The deceased’s ex-boyfriend is expected to appear in court via video link on Friday.

The lawyer for McLoughlin’s family, Peter Boyce, said he expected more than 20 witnesses would be called to give evidence, including neurosurgeon Dr Terry Coyne.

“He’ll have a couple of hypotheses about her loss of consciousness and whether there was significant trauma and the impact of trauma on her,” he said.

“Dr Coyne will give evidence about three different scenarios that are relevant.

“The burning question is what caused her death, and why did she have so many bruises on her and what was it that led her to be in that state.”

The inquest will also hear evidence supplied from the Beenham Valley Road podcast.

– ABC / Tara Cassidy and Owen Jacques

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