A WITNESS at the inquest into the death of Charlotte Rose Keen was yesterday warned she was at risk of being charged with perjury after she denied parts of her sworn police statement to a coroner’s court.
Melanie Smythe, 29, was dismissed from the hearing and advised by coroner Jacinta Heffey to seek legal advice after she claimed parts of her statement were not true, and denied that she had even said some of the things contained in it.
Ms Smythe was a friend of Charlotte’s mother Renee Jones and father Graeme Keen.
According to Ms Smythe’s statement to police, read out to the court, she would visit Ms Jones almost every day.
In the statement, made three days after Charlotte’s death, Ms Smythe said there came a time when Ms Jones began to use speed and her attitude changed “toward everyone”.
Ms Jones had separated from Mr Keen and had confided in Ms Smythe that she had begun a relationship with truck driver Brett Penrose.
Ms Smythe claimed in her statement that Ms Jones was getting drugs from Mr Penrose for free and that Ms Jones became snappy and angry when she was “coming off the gear”.
The statement detailed an occasion when Ms Jones “snapped and snarled” at Charlotte because she was splashing in the bath.
It also detailed a conversation between Ms Smythe and Ms Jones two days after Charlotte’s death, when Ms Smythe asked Ms Jones how she was feeling.
Ms Smythe said in her statement Ms Jones replied: “Everyone thinks I’m an f-----g baby killer”.
But yesterday Ms Smythe denied all knowledge of any drug use by Ms Jones.
She told the court she had “never” seen Ms Jones use speed and doesn’t remember her “coming down” off the drug.
Ms Smythe said yesterday she had “no explanation” for her statement.
“I know it’s not true, I have no explanation for it. I can’t offer an explanation of why I would say that,” she said.
Ms Heffey told Ms Smythe the detective who took her statement would likely give evidence that she did make those statements to him.
“I have to tell you, you are at risk of being charged with perjury,” Ms Heffey told her.
“If it is out of some misguided loyalty to Renee that you are doing this, the burden will be worn by you.”