What happened to Phoebe Handsjuk?
Down a garbage chute ... 24-year-old Phoebe Handsjuk. Photo: Supplied
The family of a Melbourne woman who died after plunging 12 storeys inside the garbage chute of a St Kilda Road apartment building has asked a coroner to examine if she was murdered.
At Wednesday's hearing, Coroner Peter White said he was yet to decide whether to hold a full inquest into the 2010 death of 24-year-old Phoebe Handsjuk.
They determined that Phoebe had most likely killed herself, albeit in a way some of the force's most experienced investigators had never seen before.
In urging the coroner to hold such an inquest, barrister James Isles, who is representing Phoebe's mother Natalie Handsjuk, said: "the court is well able to reach that level of satisfaction [that a homicide may have occurred]."
Fatal plunge ... The Balencea apartment building on St Kilda Road. Photo: Supplied
His call was supported by Chris Dane QC, representing Phoebe's father, Leonid Handsjuk, who told the coroner: "that it is a matter that clearly calls for an inquest."
It is believed lawyers for the family of Phoebe Handsjuk have prepared submissions for the coroner outlining several anomalies surrounding the manner of her death.
However, barrister Elizabeth Brimer, who is acting for Antony Hampel, Phoebe's boyfriend at the time of her death, said a full hearing wasn't necessary.
"There isn't a basis for that level of satisfaction [that a murder occurred]," Ms Brimer told the coroner.
Mr Hampel, 45, is the son of retired Victorian Supreme Court justice George Hampel and stepson of County Court judge Felicity Hampel.
Coroner White said that he had asked senior constable Brendan Payne – a suburban detective who investigated the death for the coroner after the homicide squad determined it was not a murder – to provide him with additional information.
The information requested by the coroner includes the location of Phoebe's phone in the hours before her death and the precise time Mr Hampel returned to the couple's apartment and whether he used a key to access it after she died.
Coroner White also asked for police to provide him with more information from the manufacturer of the garbage disposal chute and additional CCTV footage from the building's security cameras.
Phoebe Handsjuk was found dead at 7pm on December 2, 2010, on the floor of the garbage compactor room at the bottom of the Balencea apartment building on St Kilda Road.
Homicide squad detectives attended the scene but transferred the case to Detective Payne within five days after they determined that Phoebe had most likely killed herself, albeit in a way some of the force's most experienced investigators had never seen before.
Phoebe was suffering depression at the time of her death and had been drinking and taking prescription sleeping medication.
Last year, her grandfather Lorne Campbell, a former Victorian detective, wrote to the homicide squad to raise questions about the speed with which it attributed the death to suicide and what he claimed was an initial failure to gather all available evidence, including statements from several relevant people.
Mr Campbell has spent months lobbying senior police to get detectives to make further inquiries about the way Phoebe died.
In response to Mr Campbell's concerns, one of Victoria's most experienced homicide detectives, Sergeant Sol Solomon, reviewed the Handsjuk file on behalf of Coroner White.
Sergeant Solomon is understood to have found the initial investigation and the conclusion that no other party was involved in the death to be appropriate.
Some of the information requested yesterday by Coroner White is the same information that Mr Campbell has been asking police to gather.
For help or information visit beyondblue.org.au, call Suicide Helpline Victoria on 1300 651 251, or Lifeline on 131 114.