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King Country bridge collapse case

Police asked to investigate in King Country bridge collapse case

A King Country couple blamed for the death of a friend following a bridge collapse in 1994 have asked the police to re-investigate the case.

Beekeeper Kenneth Richards died nine years ago after a bridge to the Berryman farm at Owhango near Taumarunui collapsed and Mr Richards' vehicle plunged to the riverbank below.

Keith and Margaret Berryman have provided police with what they believe is key evidence in the case.

They have written to Detective Inspector Doug Brew at Palmerston North police providing him with fresh information, seeking serious consideration and response.

``As the police have never investigated, we have now made a formal application to the police to do so,’’ they said in their letter to the police.

The Berrymans had earlier appealed to the solicitor-general to begin another inquest after claims the Army withheld information.

The Berrymans feel they have suffered for loss of earnings, legal bills and anxiety and distress as a result of the ongoing case.

The coroner's court did not hear the findings of the Army’s own court of inquiry into the fatality.

New information given to police shows that army personnel had always been worried about untreated timber materials used to construct the bridge.

A former Minister of Labour Doug Kidd in a letter said: ``I am advised by OSH (Occupational Safety and Health) that the army was concerned about the quality of the materials’’.

The army built the bridge on the road which Land Information New Zealand said was under Ruapehu District Council control.

``In the case of the Te Rata Bridge both the army and the council showed a dereliction of duty,’’ the Berrymans said, in their letter to police.

``By allowing the bridge to remain in use for eight years, in an area that was under the control of the council, quite clearly the council could be deemed to be guilty of manslaughter.’’

They also said the Army could be guilty of manslaughter too by using materials not suitable for bridge construction.

The army built the bridge but the Berrymans did not own it.

The bridge was owned by the Taumarunui County Council, now Ruapehu District Council. The Berrymans say the council was responsible for inspecting and maintaining the bridge.

Copyright 2003 Word Of Mouth Media NZ

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