Jenny Diefenbach (second from left) leaves the Rockhampton courthouse with (from left) her mother Margaret Kimmorley, her son Noah, her parents-in-law Lyn and Ken Diefenbach, and Maurice Blackburn Lawyers principal Gino Andrieri.
Jenny Diefenbach (second from left) leaves the Rockhampton courthouse with (from left) her mother Margaret Kimmorley, her son Noah, her parents-in-law Lyn and Ken Diefenbach, and Maurice Blackburn Lawyers principal Gino Andrieri. Allan Reinikka

Family welcomes inquest findings

A ROCKHAMPTON Coroner has called for major changes in the real estate industry following an inquest into the death of Yeppoon baby Isabella Diefenbach.

Coroner Annette Hennessy yesterday handed down 13 recommendations aiming to protect the safety of rental property tenants and provide a uniform code of practice for real estate agents.

Isabella's mother, Jenny, left the Rockhampton courthouse yesterday displaying the same brave composure she has shown throughout her daughter's inquest.

But now she is finally able to start the healing process.

In May 2010, seven-week-old Isabella died after falling from the balcony of her parents' rental home in Yeppoon.

Isabella was being held by her father, Adam, when his foot fell through a rotten wooden plank on the house's deck, causing Isabella to fall from his arms.

Jenny and Adam had made complaints to their real estate agent, O'Reilly's Real Estate, and the landlord about the state of the deck prior to Isabella's death.

Ms Hennessy said there was a "sufficient connection between Isabella's death and the broader policy issues of the obligations of tenants, lessors and their agents in respect of the maintenance of residential rental properties".

She recommended amending state laws to ensure mandatory inspections were undertaken on decks that were over 10 years old before a property was placed on the rental market, and that ongoing checks of decks were undertaken every three years thereafter.

She suggested that wood rot be considered an emergency repair issue and a register be kept of all maintenance requests made by tenants.

In particular, she called for O'Reilly's Real Estate to adjust their internal practices.

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers principal Gino Andrieri, who represented the Diefenbachs, said the family welcomed the findings.

"Nothing can bring Bella back, but we hope (yesterday's) findings will help the Diefenbach family with the healing process after everything they've been through," Mr Andrieri said.

"We believe the findings are an acknowledgement by the Coroner that Bella's death could have been avoided if things had been done differently.

"(The family) are hopeful that, if adopted, these findings will go a long way towards ensuring that a tragedy like this can never happen again."

Ms Hennessy expressed her sympathy to the family for their "sad loss".


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