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Coroner to probe how alleged killer was freed days before Kelly's death


The Queensland deputy coroner could hold a public inquest into Gold Coast mother Kelly Wilkinson’s death after she was allegedly set alight by her estranged husband.

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The 27-year-old died in shocking circumstances in her Gold Coast backyard, allegedly at the hands of  her estranged husband Brian Earl Johnston last month.

Not long before Wilkinson died, Johnston was given police bail – without the oversight of a court – on other serious criminal charges.

Senior officers have rejected widespread calls for an independent probe into police actions, but they are conducting an internal investigation.

The Coroners Court of Queensland said Deputy Coroner Jane Bentley is investigating “all relevant circumstances” in the case.

“This matter is currently an open investigation and the Coroner will be investigating all relevant circumstances surrounding Ms Wilkinson’s death,” a court spokesperson told AAP on Thursday.

However, the Coroners Court is also yet to rule out a public inquest into Wilkinson’s death at a later date.

She is third Queensland woman to die after allegedly being set on fire by abusive partners in the space of 12 months.

A public inquest into Wilkinson’s death would provide even more scrutiny of police interactions with the mother and the decision to grant Johnston bail.

“In this case should an inquest be held it will not be possible to open the inquest until after any criminal proceedings in relation to the death are finalised, as is mandated by the Coroners Act,” the Coroners Court spokesperson told AAP.

Queensland Police have previously announced an internal review into the events that led to the young mother’s death, to be led by Assistant Commissioner Brian Codd.

Bentley has also asked for Ethical Standards Command to look into the case and she’s awaiting their findings.

“The Deputy State Coroner confirms that the Ethical Standards Command of the QPS will be undertaking a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding Ms Wilkinson’s death,” the court spokesperson added.

Johnston is facing murder and other charges, including breaching a domestic violence order. He remains in hospital where he’s being treated for burns.

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