A STUNNED Coroner’s Court inquest at Warrnambool yesterday heard how a Condah Aboriginal elder warned a Branxholme builder he had a big black snake wrapped around him and his life was in danger.
Builder Anthony Mooney, 46, died two weeks later on Father’s Day, 2008, of acute strychnine poisoning.
Yesterday, Condah Hotel publican Heather Builth gave evidence at the inquest into Mr Mooney’s death.
The qualified archaeologist revealed for the first time that her partner, Condah Aboriginal elder Jimmy, warned Mr Mooney about his health.
Ms Builth said that in the terms of ordinary society, Jimmy was clairvoyant and often dealt with people who were unwell.
After her statement to the police was read, Ms Builth said she had other information she was now prepared to reveal. Ms Builth said her partner Jimmy saw things other people didn’t see and he talked to Mr Mooney two weeks before his death on September 7, 2008.
She said Jimmy told her he saw Mr Mooney was in danger.
“He said to Tony he had a big black snake wrapped around him and it was killing him,” she said, explaining that it was clear Mr Mooney’s health was the concern.
Ms Builth said Jimmy told her what he saw before he told Mr Mooney but she understood Mr Mooney would have just laughed it all off.
Ms Builth said it would have been difficult for a person with a Christian European background to relate to what the Aboriginal elder saw as a bad spirit.
In her statement, Ms Builth said she had known Mr Mooney and his second wife Elizabeth for about five years after they had moved to the Branxholme district.
She said that when Mrs Mooney and the couple’s two young daughters went on a three-month overseas cruise Mr Mooney came to the Condah Hotel almost daily and occasionally had a big night.
The publican said leading up to his death Mr Mooney looked tired and she though he had been working and drinking too much.
She said that on the day of his death Mr Mooney had been drinking at a football final before he went to the hotel and there was a few people involved in a long talk about relationships.
Ms Builth said Mr Mooney said he missed his wife Elizabeth and needed her in his life.
She said Mr Mooney then went to leave but returned and grabbed both her hands, saying: “I don’t know if I will make it through the next two weeks”.
Ms Builth said she was not sure what Mr Mooney meant but thought he was talking about his mortality. She said she was certain Mr Mooney did not commit suicide unless Elizabeth Mooney had permanently ended their relationship.
The publican said Mr Mooney even had a bottle of Brown Brothers wine set aside for his wife’s return, had just landed a big Monivae College construction job and was planning a surprise trip to Ireland with Elizabeth.
“He was positive and had too much to live for,” she said.
Ms Builth said said the only time she saw Mr Mooney not extremely optimistic was when he grabbed her hands and told her he didn’t know how he was going to get through the next two weeks.
“And he died that night,” she said.
The inquest before Coroner Jacinta Heffey is expected to continue next week with key witnesses scheduled to give evidence.