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St Basil’s managers forced to give evidence

St Basil’s chairman Kon Kontis and facility manager Vicky Kos will now be forced to give evidence to a coronial inquest about the July 2020 disaster.Their lost fight, which has already delayed the Coroner’s probe into the disaster by seven months, should now mean the inquest can be completed.Mr Kontis and Ms Kos were the last witnesses due to give evidence before a six-week inquest in the Coroner’s Court late last year, but refused to speak on the basis it might incriminate them.They took their fight all the way up to the Supreme Court, where Justice Stephen O’Meara QC dismissed their bid on Monday morning.Justice O’Meara said Mr Kontis and Ms Kos had four arms to their motion for a judicial review against the Coroner’s Court but they “don’t enjoy any success on any of the four grounds”.His Honour’s full judgment will be published later on Monday, while the pair will also be made to pay the costs of the intervener, which was Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes.In December, State Coroner Judge John Cain considered their application against telling the inquest what they knew.But Judge Cain ruled against their request on December 23, stating it was in the “interests of justice” for them to take the stand given the “significant lacuna” of evidence.His Honour had earlier offered to grant the pair a special certificate that would have prevented their evidence from being used against them.But the former managers refused.It came after one of the daughters of a Covid victim begged the inquest: “Please do not allow Vicky Kos and Kon Kontis to be excused from giving evidence”.Helen Karikas’s mother, Vasiliki “Vicky” Patsakos, died with Covid-19 while suffering severe dehydration, and told the court in December that the families “deserve to hear them answer the questions put to them”.“If they do not take the stand, it will be a final slap in the face for all of us,” she said.Just 30 minutes after the St Basil’s managers lost their bid in the Supreme Court, their former workplace was facing a criminal hearing across the road in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court.Worksafe has laid nine criminal charges against the Fawkner aged care provider, which was ordered to appear before a short hearing on Monday morning.Those charges include failing to provide a safe environment, failing to provide information, instruction and supervision, failing to ensure residents were not exposed to risk, and failing to ensure safe entry and exit without a risk to health.Charge sheets before the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court show the offences were alleged to have occured between March 13 and July 12, 2020.Each charge carries a maximum fine of $1.49m.Lawyers for Worksafe and St Basil’s agreed that a lengthy amount of time was required to serve documents to the court.The case will return to the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court for a committal mention on December 12.

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