Gas fitter Christopher Turner charged with manslaughter over newborn nitrous oxide death

Phung argued Turner was the one responsible for the commissioning process of the gas outlets; that is, the issuing of certificates “to say they can be used” and the administration of “100 per cent nitrous oxide instead of oxygen”.

“The autopsy says … baby John was significantly compromised at birth and that was due to the negligence of the defendant using the nitrous oxide instead of the oxygen,” the prosecutor said.

In arguing why Turner should be released, his lawyer Tayla Regan cited his medical history, employment, his wife’s financial dependence as a part-time worker and court delays.

Regan said Turner had suffered two heart attacks requiring surgery, including in the last two years, and was on various medication.

She said he works in a warehouse handling stock orders for a lift company and is not involved with elevator installation or site visits.

“The risk that a circumstance like this … would occur, in my submission, is nil because he’s not in those positions any longer,” she said.

She said Turner had been compliant since 2016 with matters looking at SafeWork NSW and the coronial inquest, took himself to the police station once contacted on Monday morning, and “may not be a trial date until early 2024”.

Regan acknowledged her client proceedings had a “substantial fine … as a result of giving rise to these matters” and was now “criminally charged with it as well”.

“The prosecution appears to be relying on some findings at the coronial inquest to support these offences,” she said.

She said Turner had the presumption of innocence and the outcome could not be predicted.

McAnulty said delays in the judicial system had been caused by COVID-19 restrictions and a number of matters were significantly backlogged.

The magistrate, who noted the defendant had already been fined, said the Crown bears the “high burden” of establishing a different standard for criminal negligence.

Turner was granted bail on conditions including a $10,000 security, reporting to police three times a week and surrendering his passport.

He is to live at an address on the Central Coast and not contact any prosecution witness. The case returns to court on October 26.

The Morning Edition newsletter is our guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. sign up here.

Leave a Comment