Judge reserves decision on testimony of two former St Basil’s managers

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A Victorian Supreme Court justice will wait to hand down his decision over whether former managers of St Basil’s Homes for The Aged should testify at the ongoing coronial inquest into COVID-19 deaths at the Fawkner home in 2020.

Chairman Kon Kontis and Director of Nursing Vicky Kos last year challenged a demand to appear before the inquest, on the grounds that it may incriminate them.

Ian Hill QC, the barrister representing Mr Kontis and Ms Kos, argued that WorkSafe – Victoria’s workplace health and safety watchdog – is investigating the outbreak at St Basil’s and may decide to prosecute, and that making the pair give evidence with the agency’s lawyers present would be a “dress rehearsal” for any potential criminal trial.

Justice Stephen O’Meara will hand down his decision on whether Mr Kontis and Ms Kos will be compelled to testify at a later date.

The COVID outbreak at St Basil’s in August 2020 claimed the lives of 50 residents, 45 of whom died with the virus itself; the inquest is ongoing.