A Perth woman who police concluded shot herself may have been killed by someone else, the Coroner’s Court in Perth has been told.
- Detectives concluded Amy Wensely took her own life in 2014
- An internal inquiry found the officers “neglectful” in their duties
- An inquest has been told several experts disagree the death was a suicide
Amy Wensley, 24, was found dead in her Serpentine home in 2014. She had a gunshot wound to the head.
An inquest into her death is being held, with counsel assisting the inquiry saying several experts believe she could not have shot herself.
Sarah Tyler told the court the initial police conclusion Ms Wensley killed herself meant a full forensic examination was not carried out.
That police assessment was made by detectives from Rockingham, before the scene was cleaned the next day.
Internal inquiry finds detectives ‘neglectful’
The court was told an internal inquiry found the two detectives were neglectful in their duties.
Ms Tyler said the primary question for the inquest was whether there was evidence that could support a conclusion one way or another that Ms Wensley died by her own hand or “through the involvement of another person”.
She provided a summary of accounts that had been made to police by people who were at the house on the day of the shooting.
Ms Wensley lived in a house with David Simmons and her two daughters.
Mr Simmons was the father of Ms Wensley’s second daughter, and the home had been provided at no cost by his father, who lived in his own house on the semi-rural property.
Couple were arguing before shot was fired
The court was told the couple’s relationship was turbulent.
Mr Simmons was described in court as a “gun enthusiast” who owned several weapons, while Ms Wensley owned a pink .22 rifle.
On June 26, 2014, the couple began fighting.
One of Mr Simmons’s friends, Gareth Price, gave a statement to police he had seen Ms Wensley swinging punches at Mr Simmons and hitting him with a big, framed mirror.
He said she and Mr Simmons then loaded a car with clothes and toys for the girls.
Mr Simmons told police Ms Wensley had decided to go and stay with her mother.
He said while she was inside the house and he waited at the car, he shot a bird with a .22 rifle.
Amy Wensley ‘hysterical’ in call to mother
The court was told that at 4:48pm, Ms Wensley took a photo of herself holding a shotgun.
About 10 minutes later, she spoke to her mother Nancy Kirk on the phone and told her she had “thrown a beer” at Mr Simmons and punched him.
The court was told Ms Wensley also told her mother Mr Simmons grabbed her by the throat and threw her to the ground.
Ms Kirk described her daughter as “hysterical” and crying in a way she had not heard before.
She said her daughter accepted an invitation for her and the girls to stay at her home, but minutes later she was dead.
Ms Kirk told the court her daughter had calmed down by the end of the call and was not crying.
She believed police should have treated her daughter’s death as a crime.
Gun ‘flicked’ out of the way
Mr Simmons told police he heard what sounded like a “thud”, and then went into the house where he saw Ms Wensley lying on the bedroom floor with a shotgun next to her and a wound to her head.
Mr Price told police he heard a “loud crack” before also going into the house.
Mr Price said when he saw a .410 shotgun resting on Ms Wensley’s leg, he “flicked” it out of the way, but told police he did know why he did this.
Neither man had a phone at the time and the pair went to the Serpentine Roadhouse to call emergency services.
Mr Simmons’s father, Robert, said he went to his son’s house after receiving a call from St John Ambulance.
He later told police he saw two guns on the bedroom floor and smelt gunpowder before finding Ms Wensley’s body.
He said he picked up the shotgun and removed a spent cartridge from it, along with a full cartridge.
Ms Tyler told the court the man was the only witness to mention two guns.
Both David Simmons and Mr Price have denied any involvement in Ms Wensley’s death.
Experts contest suicide theory
The court was told the detectives’ conclusion that Ms Wensley’s death was suicide, and the subsequent cleaning of the scene the following day had a significant impact on the forensic examination.
When police received information about the turbulent nature of the couple’s relationship, the case was assigned to Major Crime Squad officers as a potential homicide.
While the initial investigation was found to be inadequate, the major crime investigation did not identify any criminality in the case and found no evidence that anyone else was involved in Ms Wensley’s death.
Two further investigations, including one by the Cold Case Homicide Squad Special Crime Division, also determined there was insufficient evidence to substantiate involvement by anyone else.
Ms Tyler told the court UWA biomechanics expert Timothy Ackland was of the opinion Ms Wensley had not shot herself.
She said Professor Ackland believed the evidence was consistent with Ms Wensley having been shot by someone who held the gun horizontally with the barrel close to her right temple.
The court heard biomedical and mechanical engineering expert Thomas Green also believed it was “unlikely” the injury was self-inflicted.
Dr Gibson believed the evidence suggested the muzzle of the shotgun had been placed against Ms Wensley’s right temple as she was “shot by another person”.
Police officer says suicide finding ‘didn’t ring right’
Senior Constable Ian Roberts attended the scene and told the court Ms Wensley was a small person and he “couldn’t quite figure out how” she had shot herself.
He said it “didn’t ring right” to him.
He also said the gun had been moved and was not with the body.
Senior Constable Roberts said he had a “heated discussion” with detectives who told him it was suicide, but he did not see any “objective evidence” at the scene that suggested that was the case.
He also believed Ms Wensley had been preparing to leave Mr Simmons before she died.