An audiotape of phone-calls between Mardi McLean and
Emergency Services re the late Mitch Collins. The first voice was recorded at
12.38.04pm on 16.12.00, up to two hours after Mitch died.
Patrick and Desley Collins (Mitch’s parents).
The following is provided in the hope that it will trigger
memories in persons who perhaps have evidence, hearsay or otherwise, about
Mitch’s death, but have never passed this on to police or to us. If this applies
to you, please take appropriate action: eg let us know, even if you will not
talk to police. We also hope that what we have written will be of value to
Mitch’s relations and friends who have never heard the Emergency Services tape.
Background: In Mardi McLean’s police statement of
1.03.01, she swore that at around 10.00am on 16.12.00, she saw Mitch inject
himself before he moaned and lay back on his bed. In her words, “From my
previous experience Mitch appeared to be affected by heroin.” Mitch’s business
partner, who produced his supporting phone records during the inquest, told the
Coroner that he had talked with McLean at 10.15am, when she said Mitch was
asleep. During another call at 11.15am she told him that she could not wake
Mitch. However, she did not mention heroin. From Paramedic Sankey’s evidence
below, it is possible that Mitch had died close to the time of the above calls.
However, McLean said that Mitch was alive and snoring when she supposedly went
to lunch with her mother at around 11.15am. There is no other confirmed evidence
about what went on at Mitch’s home until McLean phoned Emergency Services at
around 12.38pm. However, she hung up without providing any information. The
details are below.
History of the Tape:
1. The tape was Exhibit No 43 when first played as evidence
on 12.09.01 during Mitch’s inquest, which had commenced on 20.08.01. It
subsequently became evidence in DOA Case 84063, after Prosecutor Michael Byrne
charged Mardi McLean with Mitch’s murder. The original tape, which is now held
by the Office of the State Coroner, is part of the public record and can be
accessed with appropriate approvals. Mitch’s relations and friends are welcome
to listen to a copy held by us. We will also consider requests by email from
2. It was the former Brisbane Coroner Michael Halliday, via
Detective Senior Sergeant Marty Turpin from the Coroner’s Office, who instigated
the recovery of the tape of several pertinent phone calls. An investigating
detective did the legwork, but not until the Coroner sought the tape. Emergency
Services had previously advised us in writing and by phone, that only one phone
call had been made to them re Mitch. However, governmental officials advised us
that some of the calls on this tape had possibly been diverted to and recorded
3. Regardless of the circumstances, we are at a loss to
understand why investigating detectives and/or their senior officers with whom
we discussed Mitch’s death, did not recover this tape during the eight months
prior to his inquest. By contrast, they investigated every available avenue in
their failed attempts to prove that Mitch had been a heroin user. More
pertinently, they investigated numerous other phone records. This included
downloading a Sim card from a large old mobile phone recovered by us from
Mitch’s home. Although they verified this belonged to an unknown female heroin
addict, a detective attempted to induce Patrick to sign a statement that it was
from Mitch’s mobile phone. When Patrick refused because he did not know whose
phone it was, the detective would not take a statement from him.
4. The following transcript from the Emergency Services
tape was made by us, from a tape copy we acquired with the approval of the
former Brisbane Coroner Michael Halliday. Our tape copy was enhanced by
Jumpstart Productions on 16.11.05, and a copy of our transcript was provided to
the Office of the DPP. Senior journalist, Hedley Thomas from The Australian,
listened to the whole tape while reading our transcript, but he found no
5. The key call times in the transcript were
provided by the investigating Detective Senior Constable in evidence before
Coroner Halliday (pp.455-56 of the Inquest Transcript). The DSC stated that
these times were entered in handwriting on a log of calls. Other times were
calculated from elapsed time periods.
6. Mardi McLean did not know of the existence of the
Emergency Services tape when she made her police statement on 1.03.01. She
similarly had no idea that Coroner Halliday would later acquire and play the
tape after she had been examined about her police statement and other evidence.
In both instances, she gave evidence that totally contradicted what she told
Emergency Services, the paramedics, the police and the Coroner. Her major
contradictions are included as notes below, and also following the transcript.
7. We provided versions of the following to both Prosecutor
Michael Byrne and Magistrate Michael Halliday.
reading the following extracts from the transcript, please note: McLean never
mentioned Mitch’s name, although she was living in his home and she later tried to
convince the Coroner that she had known Mitch for most of her life. She first referred
to him as: “um it’s just a friend of mine”, and later as “this man”. Elsewhere she used
masculine pronouns to identify him. The transcript does not reveal that throughout the first call in which her voice was heard, she sounded nonchalant
and light-hearted. This was before she revealed where she was or that Mitch was in
However, from Senior Paramedic Craig Sankey’s inquest evidence [p.259], based on
lividity (colour from settled blood) on Mitch’s back at 1.12pm, he had been dead for
more than thirty minutes, but it could have been for two hours or more.
further examination by the Coroner, he said it was at least two hours (p.263).
words, Mitch had possibly been dead for up to two hours when McLean nonchalantly told Emergency Services that he was OK at 12.38.50pm (see
Annotated Text of the Emergency Audio-tape 16.12.00.
Note 1: From McLean’s police statement [para 28], she swore
that she came home from lunch and found Mitch lying with his shoulders on the
floor. She continued that she lifted “him back onto his bed … and I ran straight
to the phone in his room and rang 000”: i.e. she did not claim that she had
seen needles on his floor or that she had picked them up prior to the first 000
call. However, the only available floor space was beside or under Mitch’s body,
which was three metres from his phone: i.e. if his shoulders had been on the
12.37.34pm: McLean phoned Emergency Services but hung up without
providing data re Mitch’s condition or his
(approx). name, address
number. Nothing from this call is on our copy of the audiotape.
12.38.04pm. The first call (on our tape copy) was
of the following conversation between two Emergency
(offical time) Services
operators who had noted Mitch’s phone number, presumably from their
“Caller ID” devices:
Operator 1: Ambulance. Where
is your emergency?
Operator 2: Yes. The caller
asked for an ambulance, but she’s hung up.
Operator 2: That’s it.
Operator 1: O.K.
Operator 2: Thank you, Bye.
The sound of a sustained dial tone can be heard, followed
by the sound of a phone being hung up. We do not know if McLean had lifted the
phone and then put it down.
Operator Hello This is
Rebecca calling from the ambulance.
McLean: Yeah, I’m uh I’m
sorry, it’s alright.
Operator: Are you sure?
Operator: What was the
McLean: Oh no, it’s
just um a friend of mine, but he’s O.K.
Operator: Are you sure?
[From elapsed time, McLean hung up at 12.38.50pm].
Note 2: McLean stated the above in
a light-hearted voice. This contrasts markedly with the voice she adopted with
the paramedics at the end of the tape.
Note 3: According to McLean in her “Statement
to Police” [para 28], she rubbed Mitch’s legs throughout the above, which she
presented as one phone call: i.e. she did not mention that she had hung up
without giving Mitch’s address and other details. It was during this supposed
single call, and supposedly prior to her telling the operator that her “friend”
was O.K. that McLean swore that she saw needles on Mitch’s floor: i.e. she
could not have picked up the alleged needles prior to the end of the second,
i.e. the tracer call at 12.38.50pm.
Note 4: From paragraph 30 of her police
statement and her inquest evidence, McLean swore that she picked up needles in
Mitch’s room after the above two calls (which she had presented as a single call
made by her): i.e. after 12.38.50pm. During the inquest [pp.77-78, on 20.08.01]
she said that it took about 7 minutes to pick up 23 or more needles and to hide
them in her room before returning to check on Mitch and then hurrying to Jayson
Spencer for assistance. Jayson, whose unit was about 50 metres from Mitch’s, was
coincidentally on the phone. His Telstra records confirmed that he terminated
his call at 12.39.55pm. As he estimated this was 12secs after she arrived at his
gate, she was there at about 12.39.42pm. This was 52 seconds after she told an
operator that Mitch was OK and terminated that call at 12.38.50pm. She
therefore could not have spent 7 minutes cleaning up needles etc.
With Jayson’s permission, we provided copies of his phone
records for 16.12.00 to Prosecutor Byrne and to Magistrate Halliday.
Note 5: Jayson and McLean then went to
Mitch’s town house where, according to Jayson, under instructions from him she
phoned for an ambulance.
Transcript of tape resumed:
Phone dial tone (or ringing). It
stopped after a few seconds: This was 30secs prior to a call answered by
Emergency Services at 12.41.42pm (below).
Phone ringing There were only two
rings: This was 9secs prior to the call answered by Emergency Services at
Note 6: There appears to be a gap in the
recording immediately after the above rings. Although it is unlikely, it is
possible that these few seconds were accidentally erased. It is also possible
that this was at the junction of data acquired from two call centre systems and
copied onto a single tape. An Emergency Services officer told Desley that one
“system” had recorded a (second tracer) call below at 12.43pm [actually
12.42.26pm], and another “system” had recorded all of the previous calls.
12.41.42pm (official time): The third call with
recorded voices: This was by McLean to Emergency Services, when Jayson was
with her. It commenced 2mins and 52secs after McLean had hung up the above
tracer call at 12.38.50pm, when she told the operator that Mitch was “O.K.” It
was also 1min 43secs after Jayson had terminated his above call at 12.39.55.
The text of the third taped conversation follows:
Operator: Ambulance. Where
is your emergency?
McLean: Hello, um I
need, I need an ambulance to um 7 slash 16 [i.e. 7/16]
Operator: O.K. I spoke to
you just a second ago?
Note 12: We have not included approximately 2 minutes of CPR
instructions up until Jayson took over from McLean on the phone. He told the
Coroner’s Court that he did this because McLean was behaving erratically. [From elapsed time this was at
Note 13: Jayson continued CPR until the paramedics arrived.
However, the Operator asked the following pertinent question;
Note 14: As previously stated, Mitch was dead well before McLean
first called Emergency Services. It is therefore difficult for us to accept
condition had deteriorated during post-mortem CPR, when oxygen
was being pumped into him..
Note 15: The above confirms that McLean did not tell the
paramedics that Mitch’s had collapsed from a heroin overdose: i.e. before they
commenced CPR and other attempts to revive him.
McLean again withheld information about heroin to
Paramedics, when CPR was terminated:
As was recorded above, McLean replied, “I don’t know”, when
a paramedic asked her, “Has he taken anything?” However, Paramedic Sankey’s
“Ambulance Report” (16.12.00) and also his Police Statement (para 15, 3.04.01),
record that McLean (Mitch’s “Flat mate”) advised him, after CPR was terminated,
that Mitch had taken alcohol and ecstasy, but there was no reference to heroin.
During the Inquest, Sankey confirmed that McLean had not mentioned heroin, just
alcohol and ecstasy (p.267).
* * *
McLean’s Police Statement and Her Inquest Evidence both
Conflict with the Emergency Services Tape re Heroin.
McLean denied knowledge of heroin in Mitch, when asked by
an Emergency Services operator on 16.12.00, if he had taken it. However, she
swore to police on 1.03.01, that she had witnessed Mitch use heroin twice on
16.12.00 [McLean’s Police Statement para’s 8, 15, 18, 22 & 23]. She repeated
these claims when examined during the inquest. However, all of these claims were
made after Mitch’s autopsy on 18.12.00, and prior to 12.09.01 when the tape was
first played during the inquest.
Similarly, during an inquest examination on 22.08.01
(p.80), McLean was adamant that she would have told the paramedics that Mitch
had taken heroin. However, the Emergency Services tape verifies this was not
* * *
McLean Told Several Witnesses that Mitch had died from a
heart attack, but she did not mention heroin to those persons.
(i): Paramedic Sankey’s “Ambulance Report”
(16.12.00) mentions that Patrick Collins advised him that there was a family
history of sleep apnoea. Patrick raised this issue as McLean had told him she
thought Mitch had had a heart attack. Because of McLean’s heart attack scenario,
Patrick also phoned Dr Sinton and asked him, when he had completed Mitch’s
autopsy on 18.12.00, if Mitch had died from a heart attack. Dr Sinton confirmed
that this was not so. Patrick repeated his early acceptance of the heart attack
scenario during the inquest (p.8).
(ii): Paramedic told the Coroner that Mitch was in a state
of cardiac arrest and was asystolic (p.261), hence no heart beat defibrillation
was conducted. However, he at no time mentioned a heart attack and he did not
refer to one in his Ambulance Report or in his Police Statement.
(iii): McLean, during the inquest (pp.80-81)
confirmed that on the day Mitch died, she had told others that he had had a
heart attack, but she suggested to the Court that she had been told this by the
paramedics. However, this was immediately after she had insisted to the Court
that she would have told the paramedics about heroin.
(iv): McLean’s late mother, Michele Cole, told
the Coroner that McLean had phoned her on 16.12.00 and said that Mitch had died
from a massive heart attack (p’s 185 & 195). Cole also told the Court that she
thought McLean had learned this from the paramedics. However, Cole gave her
evidence on 21.08.01: i.e. more than two weeks before the Emergency Services
tape was played in Court on 12.09.01.
(v): Mitch’s step-daughter, Bobbi Spence, told
the Coroner that on 16.12.00 McLean had told her that Mitch had had a massive
heart attack (p’s 280 & 332).
(vi): Tyson Cooney, Bobbi Spence’s then
partner, told the Coroner that McLean told him that Mitch had had a massive
heart attack (p’s 378 & 383).
* * *
Key Issues Verified from the Above Transcript and
- All calls involving Emergency Services were made
well after Mitch had died.
- McLean made only one call on her own volition, but she
terminated this without providing any data about Mitch. The second call she
made was under the direction of Jayson Spencer.
- McLean hung up, inappropriately, during both of the
calls she made.
- Emergency Services made two tracer calls to Mitch’s
town house, both after McLean had hung up.
- McLean said during the first tracer call: “… it’s
just um a friend of mine, but he’s O.K.” How could Mitch have been OK
two hours post-mortem?
- McLean told the Coroner on 20.08.01 (before she heard
the tape) that she had spent about 7mins collecting needles, tidying up
Mitch’s room etc, checking on him and then seeking assistance from Jayson
Spencer. However, the maximum available time was probably less than thirty
seconds: i.e. immediately before she went to Spencer’s unit.
- She lied to an Emergency Services operator when she
replied, “I’ve no idea,” when the operator asked her, “Has he taken heroin
- She lied to paramedics when she replied, “I
don’t know,” after they asked her when they arrived, “Has he taken
- She withheld information about heroin when she told
Paramedic Sankey, after he terminated CPR, that Mitch had taken alcohol and
ecstasy, but did not mention heroin.
- There is extensive evidence that McLean told others
that Mitch had died from a heart attack. She also
claimed that the paramedics had said this. However, Senior Paramedic Sankey
did not mention a heart attack in his Ambulance Report, his Police
Statement, or under examination during the inquest.
- The question must be asked: why did McLean withhold
her knowledge of heroin in Mitch’s body, from
every person who was at Mitch’s home on the day he died, but instead
suggested to several that he had died from a heart attack?
- In a pertinent answer she told the Court (p.80) that
to protect Mitch’s reputation, she would not have told police about the
heroin. However, it was in this context that she had just said she would not
have withheld this from the paramedics. The above transcript of course shows
- The bottom line is: if McLean had genuinely believed
that Mitch was still alive but with heroin in his bloodstream, when she
first called Emergency Services, why did she withhold this vital awareness
from paramedics and all others who could perhaps have saved him?
Thank you for reading this.
Patrick and Desley Collins,
* * * * *