The coroner holding the inquest into how two crew members of the bulk carrier Sage Sagittarius, 105.708dwt died when the ship was in Australian waters in 2012 has asked for more time to consider her verdicts.
Deputy NSW Coroner Sharon Freund had been expected to reveal her findings by mid-May this year, but the matter has been delayed until a date yet to be fixed.
The inquest in Sydney is looking into the disappearance off Cairns on Aug 30, 2012, of the chief cook Cesar Llanto, 42, and the death of chief engineer Hector Collado, 55, who died a fortnight later after falling 12 storeys down an engineering shaft when the ship was moored at the port of Newcastle.
Superintendent Kosaku Monji, whose death is not being investigated, was sent to the ship to calm the crew and investigate the deaths on behalf of the Hachiuma Steamship Co but his body was found mangled in a conveyor belt on Oct 6 when the ship was in Japan, outside the jurisdiction of the Australian inquest.
The three men died or disappeared within a 37-day period.
During the inquest, naval electronics expert Mark Sanders testified that he believed audio recordings from the days Mr Collado and Mr Llanto died had been deliberately deleted. The Australian authorities had requested 10 audio files to be downloaded for evidence but had only been given nine, and the date stamps appeared to have been tampered with.
At the inquest, the shipping company’s executive director Shigeto Yoshimura said, via a video link from Japan, said he didn’t think there is “any sort of relationship amongst these three deaths.”
The Japanese Coast Guard and the Japanese Transport Safety Board investigating Mr Monji’s death were not told of the deaths of the other two men. Mr Yoshimura conceded that he did not report the other deaths “probably because I did not want to delay the operation of the ship.”