'I saw him - in half': graffiti artist's shocking death
A graffiti tag close to the tunnel at Lewisham appeared to show the word "Ontre". Photo: Nick Moir
A young graffiti artist says he will never go onto railway tracks again after seeing his friend cut in two by a train.
Tre Toman, an 18-year-old apprentice plumber, was killed by a train in a railway underpass on West Street, between Lewisham and Petersham in Sydney's inner west, while tagging with two friends on the night of January 11 last year.
I never, ever would get on a railway track again.
The Glebe Coroners Court on Wednesday heard the youth might not have heard the train coming and been caught off guard as he passed through the short railway tunnel.
The West Street overpass in Lewisham. Photo: Nick Moir
Nicholas Calleija, 18, told the court that he, Mr Toman and another friend had decided to tag a freshly painted wall near Lewisham station and drove there with spray cans.
He said Mr Toman was good at painting his tags, saying across Sydney "from Blacktown to Maroubra, everyone thought highly of him".
Mr Toman's "Ontre" tags could still be seen around Sydney, and a piece of graffiti at Lewisham read "RIP Ontre", the court heard.
Mr Calleija said he and his other friend had tagged the wall and passed through the underpass when a train came through, passing very close.
"I couldn't hear it until I saw it ... It was right there."
Mr Calleija said he and his friend looked at each other, realising Mr Toman had been behind them and they started shouting out for him.
"I saw him – in half."
Mr Calleija said he told his friend not to look and they ran back to his car and drove to a friend's house, scared, upset and not knowing what to do.
They were driven to a police station to report Mr Toman's death.
Asked by Coroner Mary Jerram what his attitude to graffiti was now, Mr Calleija said he was "over all the illegal stuff".
"I never, ever would get on a railway track again."
Mr Calleija said a lot of taggers who knew of Mr Toman would never go to Lewisham to tag, and chose places that were less dangerous.
He said many "free walls" set up by councils for taggers to paint on had been closed down, pushing taggers into illegal street activity.
Leading Senior Constable Sarah Jessup told the inquest the train had been travelling about 85km/h and Mr Toman might not have been heard it.
She said on the night of his death she had to warn two police officers to get off the tracks when a train they had not heard appeared at speed behind them.
The inquest heard trains travelled quietly through residential areas at night.
The inquest continues.