Kerre McIvor
Kerre McIvor is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Kerre Woodham: Callous words unfair

Iraena Asher suffered from a bipolar disorder.
Photo / Supplied
Iraena Asher suffered from a bipolar disorder. Photo / Supplied

What a mean-spirited, cruel judgment from the coroner who released his findings into the circumstances surrounding Iraena Asher's death this week.

Iraena disappeared into the Piha surf in 2004 and the coroner, Peter Ryan, found that she died an accidental death and is presumed drowned.

But he also told a couple who took Iraena into their home that their decision not to contact police, after they found Iraena wandering the streets, contributed to her death.

Never mind that he described Julia Woodhouse and Bobbie Carroll's actions in taking a distressed stranger into their home as "noble".

Coroner Ryan then went on to say they were in the best position to assess Iraena's condition and they were in the best position to obtain professional intervention for Iraena - and their decision not to contact police was a factor in Iraena's death.

That to me sounds like he's pointing the finger of blame at the Piha couple.

How on earth were they supposed to know that Iraena had a bipolar disorder?

She looked for all the world like just another drunk girl, confused and erratic but nothing a good night's sleep wouldn't fix. She was adamant she didn't want emergency services called and had calmed down when Julia and Bobbie left her to sleep it off on the couch.

What about the other couple who saw her naked under a streetlight and later walking down to the beach? Why weren't they singled out by the coroner for special attention as well?

They may not have had the opportunity to personally assess her condition as Julia and Bobbie had, but I'm damn sure if I saw a naked young woman talking to a lamp before heading towards the surf, I'd have called the police. They chose not to and yet the coroner didn't point the bone at them.

And what of the group Iraena travelled out to Piha with? She was clearly behaving in a very odd fashion, dancing naked in front of strangers, alternating between tears and laughter, and not one of them cared enough about a distressed young woman to take care of her.

It seems to me that Julia Woodhouse and Bobbie Carroll are the only people who behaved with any humanity and they should not have been singled out as being responsible in any way for the death of a troubled young woman.

Women get a raw deal like always

What bloody cheek. The Japanese women's soccer team, the current Olympic champions, flew to London this week strapped snugly into their economy-class seats.

Their male counterparts, ranked 22 in the world, flew the same day - but they went in style, stretching out for the long journey in business class.

It's clearly not just the Japanese who seem to think women's sport is just a bit of hit and giggle.

The Australian men's basketball team were given the luxury of legroom in business while the women's team were cramped up in premium economy. This despite the fact that the women's team has a higher world ranking than the men.

All this will come as no surprise to any woman who has played representative sport.

Women's sport has always been the poor relation in terms of resources and sponsors compared with the games men play. But it still rankles, especially when these are teams heading to the Olympics to represent their countries.

Still, I suppose the women should be grateful they weren't asked to help hand out the meals on the long flight to London.

Degree of dissension

I'll be following with interest the High Court case over inaccurate temperature readings.

I never thought I would find a court case involving temperature comparisons and the methodology of meteorology remotely interesting, but ever since carbon emission taxes have become a reality I've paid a lot more attention to the climate-change debate.

If you haven't caught up with it, Niwa, the organisation that collates national temperature records, has been taken to court by the New Zealand Climate Science Education Trust.

The trust says that data showing New Zealand's temperature has risen almost one degree celsius in the past century is wrong.

It's not just that our national temperature rise is almost 50 per cent above the international average for the period - the trust says that rather than using accepted international methodology, Niwa used an untested and unscientific method thought up by a former employee. This could be seen as a spat between nit-picking pointy heads - except the findings are important and affect all of us.

Based on what the Government's scientists report, together with scientific findings from around the world, policy decisions are made, legislation is enacted and we are stung in the back pocket.

Given the intransigence from both sides - the climate-change sceptics and those who believe man is ruining the Earth - and given the emotion from both sides, perhaps a dispassionate courtroom is the best place to start sorting the facts from the rhetoric.

- Herald on Sunday

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