Inquest told investigator was shut down

Samantha Farrer says she was shut down and her work was altered without her being consulted.
Samantha Farrer says she was shut down and her work was altered without her being consulted.

A safety investigator was left "frustrated" after her efforts to examine the circumstances surrounding the death of a 17-year-old girl at a NSW equestrian event were shut down and her final report altered, an inquest has heard.

Following the death of Olivia Inglis at the Scone Horse Trials in March 2016, Samantha Farrar volunteered to be part of an Equestrian Australia review into the accident.

But Ms Farrar, who is a workplace health and safety officer with more than 30 years' experience and the wife of Equestrian NSW chief executive Bruce Farrar, was told by the review's panel not to talk to key witnesses or focus her investigation on certain details.

Olivia died after she was crushed by her horse, when they tumbled over a jump on a cross country course.

Deputy state coroner Derek Lee is looking into the circumstances of her death and that of 19-year-old Caitlyn Fischer, who died when her horse fell on her at the Sydney International Horse Trials in April 2016.

A key issue the inquest has considered is whether the jump at which Olivia fell met international safety guidelines.

Ms Farrar told the inquest she attempted to make sure the jump's measurements were properly recorded but was blocked from doing so.

"It was very frustrating at the time," she said on Friday.

"I was just trying to get correct data and it was very difficult to get."

Attempts to research other problematic elements of the jump were also shut down.

"I had spoken to a number of experts and I was told I wasn't allowed to consult expert riding opinions," Ms Farrar said.

While investigating the incident, Ms Farrar discovered that a year before Olivia's death another rider had experienced a "near miss" at the same jump and was nervous about facing it again.

But when Ms Farrar suggested interviewing riders she was told not to.

She was also told she would not be in charge of interviewing the course designer, builder and technical delegate.

When she finally presented her draft report to Equestrian Australia's review panel a number of key parts were taken out without her being consulted.

"I felt as though a lot of the suggestions and recommendations I was making, that I felt passionate about, (were taken out) and I felt that I didn't have any say in putting them back in," she said.

She said her analysis of the casual factors contributing towards Olivia's accident was taken out of the report as the chair said it may give the impression the review was about "blame".

The inquest adjourned on Friday after 10 days of evidence and will resume on July 22.

The families of Caitlyn and Olivia packed up framed photographs of the girls that had sat with them throughout the inquest, which for them had uncovered distressing facts about their daughters' deaths.

Among these was the revelation medical staff on the day were only hired to provide general first aid and didn't have numerous life-saving devices.

"Mark and I were disturbed to learn that the Sydney three-day event where Caitlyn competed only seven weeks after Olivia's death, the level of medical care able to be provided was no different to that provided at Scone," Caitlyn's mother Ailsa Carr said in a statement to media on Friday.

Australian Associated Press