State coroner requires men of interest to speak at Tony Jones' inquest

PERSONS of interest related to the disappearance of backpacker Tony Jones will be required to give further evidence at an inquest. 

But they do not have to answer questions that might incriminate themselves.

State Coroner Terry Ryan ruled that Townsville businessman Kevin Wright and John Eastaughffe should be compelled to give evidence under the “interests of justice”. 

Nothing contained in this Act should render any person compellable to answer any question tending to incriminate himself or herself. - Section 22 (2) of the Coroners Act 1958

Other witnesses in the inquiry allege these two men were involved in the death of another man in Hughenden at a time that might match with Mr Jones’ disappearance. 

The coroner requires these men to give evidence under Section 33 (2) of the Coroners Act 1958. 

“Nothing contained in this Act should render any person compellable to answer any question tending to incriminate himself or herself,” Section 33 (2) said.

This did not limit the previous sub-section, which was that witnesses giving evidence should have the same protection and immunities as witnesses appearing before justices. 

On its own this meant that these men did not have to answer questions that would incriminate them while witnesses in the inquiry.  

But the section can be overridden in an inquiry under section 10 of the act, where the coroner has jurisdiction to make inquiries into “things as will or will be likely to reveal whether such missing person is alive or dead”. 

Tony Jones was last seen in North Queensland in November 1982. 

The then 20-year-old phoned his parents and girlfriend and told them he was hitchhiking from Townsville to Mount Isa to see his brother. 

A Corners Court of Queensland spokesperson said the inquest was adjourned to a date to be fixed depending on a potential judicial review of the decision.

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