The family of a man who shot himself after a 43-hour siege with police is taking legal action against Channel Nine, following a coroner’s report that Melbourne chief of staff Kate McGrath interfered with police.
In March 2013 McGrath spoke to convicted rapist Antonio ‘Tony’ Loguancio, 40, while he was barricaded in a Glenroy bungalow, including in one phone call lasting 54 minutes.
Coroner Audrey Jamieson found McGrath’s communication with Loguancio, which he initiated, had been disruptive, but cleared her of contributing to his suicide.
“It ultimately amounted to an opportunistic exploitation of a significant police incident, executed by Ms McGrath without any consideration for the fact that she may be compromising police endeavours to have Tony surrender himself,” she said.
“Ms. McGrath’s contact with Tony … was conducted to the exclusion of negotiators and limited their already precarious ability to engage and negotiate with Tony.
“I find that Nine Network’s direct communications with Tony during the siege were inappropriate and disruptive to the police operation but was not of itself, causative to the outcome.”
Loguancio’s mother Lesley Gilmour told Fairfax, “I never got the chance to get him out of the siege because of Channel Nine.”
A spokeswoman for Nine said: “We are sorry for Ms Gilmour’s loss, however, we reject the version of events alleged by the plaintiff and note the Coroner’s finding that any conduct of Nine was not causative to the outcome.”