Family seek answers as inquest into teen's death begins

A fresh inquest into the death of an Indigenous teenager will seek to find out how he ended up on train tracks in regional NSW more than three decades ago.

Mark Anthony Haines' body was found south of Tamworth on January 16, 1988.

An autopsy showed the Gomeroi 17-year-old died from a traumatic head injury. An inquest into his death returned open findings in 1989.

A stolen car was found nearby and police concluded the teenager had laid on the tracks either deliberately or in a dazed state, something his family has never believed. 

His sister Lorna Haines said the family hoped this inquest would be their "path to justice".

"My family have been waiting 36 long years to find out the truth about what happened that night," she said ahead of the inquest.

"We hope that the coroner will not rest until all the facts come out. All we want is accountability and truth."

The latest inquest began in Tamworth on Monday, before deputy state coroner Harriet Grahame. 

Directly addressing Mr Haines' family in court, Ms Grahame said she was taking the task of finding out what happened to the teenager "extremely seriously".

"I know how long you have been working towards this day and I acknowledge your perseverance and resilience," she said.

In his opening statement, counsel assisting the coroner Chris McGorey said it was likely someone had more information about Mark's death.

"If there are persons out there in a position to assist, it is of critical importance to Mark and his family and the community and to allow some determination as to exactly what occurred," he said.

Mr McGorey said Mark was spotted on the tracks just after 6am on January 16 by the crew of a train passing through the area.

The train had been travelling from West Tamworth to Werris Creek, coming to a stop at 6:06am after passing over Mark's body.

A crew member told the inquest he and the driver were shaken after the incident and "we weren't even talking". 

"The driver got on the radio and got on to everybody and I just sat there," he said on Monday.

He had also been part of the crew on an earlier train, heading in the opposite direction, which arrived in West Tamworth about 5:50am. 

He told the inquest on this trip he had seen what appeared to be white boxes on the track, but he heard a thud as they passed over the object.

"The noise wasn't consistent with hitting a box. A box shouldn't make a noise," he said.

Mr McGorey said one of the key questions for the inquest was how Mark came to be on the tracks. 

He said the previous inquest heard Mark's shoes were clean, despite the ground being muddy from rain that evening.

"If Mark accessed the train line during this weather, would it be reasonable to expect some marks on his clothes," Mr McGorey said.

The inquest is set to run for two weeks. 

13YARN 13 92 76

Aboriginal Counselling Services 0410 539 905

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