The inquest into the deaths of two crew members of the bulk carrier Sage Sagittarius, 73,427dwt, when the ship was in Australian waters in 2012, has determined that they met with foul play at the hands of other, unidentified people on board.
The chief cook, Caesar Llanto, 42, disappeared overboard in the August and chief engineer Hector Collado, 55, was killed while the ship was docking at Newcastle two weeks later.
A third crew member, Kosaku Monji, whose death was not being investigated in Australia, was sent to the ship to calm the crew and investigate the deaths on behalf of the managers, the Hachiuma Steamship Co, of Kobe, but his body was found mangled in a conveyor belt weeks later when the ship was in Japan, outside the jurisdiction of the Australian inquest.
Delivering her findings, the Coroner Sharon Freund said Mr Llanto, an experienced veteran, was either thrown overboard or killed and his body later disposed of. “I am satisfied on the balance of probabilities that Mr Llanto died as a result of foul play by a person or persons on the vessel,” she said.
Mr Collado was found to have fallen 12m down an engineering shaft, and the coroner said: “The injury that Mr Collado sustained before he fell over the handrail on the fourth deck is consistent with someone hitting him forcefully over the head.
“It would be an extraordinary coincidence if the person or persons who caused Mr Llanto’s death were not also responsible for Mr Collado’s death.”
Nearly 11 hours of audio was found to be missing from a voyage data recorder across the period Mr Llanto disappeared.
“The omission of such data in my view is highly significant and suspicious,” said the coroner.