A judge has today ruled there is no need to hold an autopsy on the body of a seven-year-old girl who died in a tragic backyard skipping-rope accident.
Supreme Court Justice John Digby upheld an appeal by the girl's parents to stop the Victorian coroner from performing an autopsy after she had died in unusual circumstances.
Sarah Traynor died on November 21 after getting tangled in a skipping rope that was tied to a swing in the backyard of her Bairnsdale home in East Gippsland.
The judge said Sarah had been playing in the backyard about 3.30pm with her father, Joe Traynor, and the billy cart he had made for her.
Mr Traynor left her to go down the street about 4pm after telling his partner, Michelle Websdale, that Sarah was still playing in the backyard.
Five minutes after he left, Ms Websdale was visited by a family friend.
When Mr Traynor and his sister returned to the house they found Sarah hanging from a swing set.
Mr Traynor immediately called triple-0 and an ambulance took Sarah to hospital but she died soon after arriving.
Justice Digby said Mr Traynor claimed in his affidavit that the thought of an autopsy on his daughter caused him "great distress".
Mr Traynor was "horrified" at the thought and would not be able to bear it if an autopsy was performed.
Sarah's mother agreed and "just wanted her daughter back", the judge said.
On Friday, lawyer Fiona Ellis, acting for coroner Heather Spooner, argued an autopsy was necessary for the coroner to fulfil its statutory obligation in determining the cause of the death of a "young child who died in extremely ... unusual circumstances" and provide recommendations, wherever possible, that could prevent any further deaths the same way.
Ms Ellis also noted the fact Sarah had been a healthy girl before her death, and that her hanging had not been witnessed by anyone, were among several relevant factors in the case.
But Justice Digby said there was no evidence to suggest foul play or suspicious circumstances in relation to Sarah's death.
The coroner's reasons did not explain why an autopsy would be useful.
"The court is not persuaded it is likely given the nature and circumstances of this death that useful information will be obtained from an autopsy," the judge said.
The evidence showed Sarah had died from neck compression and a CT scan had not shown anything suspicious and did not lead to a conclusion that anything was amiss.
Justice Digby said the police investigation found Sarah had died from a tragic accident.
He said the investigating officer believed Sarah had been playing and died as a result of an accident.
The judge ordered no autopsy be performed and Sarah's body be released to her parents as soon as practical.