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Coroner reports Devonport man Geoffrey Hay died around August 2013 | The Examiner


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A reclusive Devonport man was never seen again after his home was destroyed by a fire that was intentionally made difficult to extinguish, a coroner has said. On Monday, coroner Simon Cooper released his report into the death of Geoffrey Robert Hay, whose body has never been found. Mr Cooper said he was unable to determine how or where Mr Hay died, but was satisfied he died on or shortly after August 28, 2013. Mr Hay was born in 1946 and grew up in Circular Head, before living the rest of his life in Nixon Street, Devonport, the coroner said. “He worked as a farmer on family farms. There is no evidence he ever married, was in a relationship, or had any children,” Mr Cooper said. “It is evident Mr Hay lived a reclusive life with limited social interaction. He appears to have enjoyed camping and boating. He owned or had owned several boats and four-wheel-drives.” Mr Cooper said Mr Hay was last seen about 2pm on August 27, 2013, “walking very slowly with both hands on [a] walking stick on his property” by his neighbour of 13 years. “There is no reliable evidence of Mr Hay being seen [alive or dead] by anyone… after this time.” Mr Cooper said there was evidence Mr Hay, 66 at the time, had significant hip pain and mobility issues, and had discussed suicide. In the early hours of August 28, 2013, his Nixon Street home was completely destroyed by fire. “The response to the fire was hampered by the fact that the property was surrounded with high fences, the gates of which were all locked. “All of the windows and doors of the house were covered with steel plates and nearby fire plugs were rendered inoperable as a result of concrete having been poured into them.” Mr Cooper said an investigator determined the fire was “planned and ignited with a view of completely destroying the property” and there were “various physical impairments… in place to make the task of firefighters extinguishing the blaze difficult”. Despite a sustained media campaign to locate Mr Hay, no trace of him was found until 2016 when his Suzuki Jimny was found burnt out in bushland at Bakers Beach. It had been there for some time, the coroner said, but contained no trace of human remains. Mr Hay’s bank account has not been accessed, and no financial or government institution had any subsequent record of him, Mr Cooper said he was satisfied to a legal standard that Mr Hay was dead. “Since August 2013, no trace at all of Mr Hay has been found. No one has seen him. “How, where, and in what circumstances he met his death is not something I am able to determine.”

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