Man, 71, with dementia dies after getting trapped in 8 miles of fire stairwell at mall for three weeks

Bernard 'Butch' Gore entered the stairwell which could not be opened from inside. There was an exit down the stairs and along a corridor which he could not find.


                            Man, 71, with dementia dies after getting trapped in 8 miles of fire stairwell at mall for three weeks

The wife of an elderly man, 71, waited to meet him in one of the busiest shopping centers in Sydney and had no idea that her husband was trapped inside a nearby stairwell where later died. Bernard 'Butch' Gore was found in the stairwell at Westfield Bondi Junction in early 2017.

Currently, a week-long inquest is being held in the NSW Coroners Court in Lidcombe into Gore 's death and disappearance. This also looked into how adequately the CCTV and searches by police and security were conducted. Detective Senior Constable Andrew Agostino told the NSW Coroner's Court on November 4, "The manner of the investigation, in how it was conducted, probably wasn't the best way to manage an investigation when we know someone's high risk." 

Gore's wife, Angela Gore, was seen crying silently as the inquest said how his body was found kneeling forward as though he had fallen off a chair. The distraught family saw the video of Gore's final moments when he entered the stairwell. 

Gore had been reported missing on January 6 after he did not show up to meet Angela outside Woolworths as had been planned. Gore, who had early dementia, had gone to Westfield from his daughter's apartment and had entered a fire stairwell when he got trapped. 

At the time, he was carrying only $30 as well as his Opal card. According to the footage, he walked inside the Westfield around 12. 48 pm, up to level four, and through door L407 at 12.50 pm. There were several thousand shoppers who went in and out as Gore sat trapped inside. 

His body was found by a maintenance worker on January 27. As per a forensic analysis, he had died at least one or two weeks before his body was discovered. CCTV cameras had been able to capture Gore entering Westfield, walking through the shopping center and turning into the fire stairwell. Those videos were not examined by officials. 

An inquest was also made aware that Gore had entered the stairwell which could not be opened from inside and even though there was an exit down the stairs and along a corridor, he did not find it.

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