Victoria Police Admit To Failures In The Investigation Into Bridget Flack’s Disappearance
The family of trans woman Bridget Flack has detailed the failure of Victoria Police following her disappearance and death.
Trigger Warning: This story may be distressing to some readers. For 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.
Flack’s sister, Angela Pucci Love, spoke during the coronial inquest into the deaths of five trans or gender-diverse people on Monday, November 27. The death of Flack is the leading case, with Pucci Love describing the “hell” her family experienced during Police investigations.
The court heard the struggles of the case being dismissed early into Flack’s disappearance in December 2020. Pucci Love said the Police told her that “no more… could be done,” eleven days before two community members found her body.
‘I Fought Really Hard For Someone To Listen to Me’
Speaking to the Coroners Court of Victoria, Pucci Love told the court how difficult it was for her sister’s disappearance case to be taken seriously by Victoria Police.
“I fought really hard for someone to listen to me,” Pucci Love told the court.
“I just kept getting the feeling that it wasn’t anybody’s issue but mine.”
Pucci Love expressed a lack of efficiency from the Police, saying it was “hell” trying to communicate with officers, as the case was passed to various officers.
“Over the next 36 hours, I spoke to seven different police officers at four locations,” she said.
One Police officer also “sold her a story” that Flack was “off the grid [and] sleeping rough,” Pucci Love revealed.
“I kept saying, ‘This is not characteristic. This is not normal.’”
Another officer had also suggested that Pucci Love should call the fire brigade and report a fire from Flack’s apartment, in order to break in.
“I don’t believe they understood the level of risk,” she said.
“I remember saying, by nature, she’s more vulnerable in public. She’s more vulnerable to violence. I was just astounded that, initially, it wasn’t taken seriously.”
Pucci Love said that three days after Flack had been missing, Victoria Police said there was nothing else that could be done.
Police Admit To Failures
Victoria Police files revealed to the court that Flack’s case was only classed as a “medium” risk. This was despite Pucci Love explaining the challenges her sister faced accessing mental health care before disappearing.
Following Pucci Love, Senior Constable Garside gave evidence to the court. He admitted that it was “pretty hard to listen to” the evidence given by Flack’s sister.
Cst. Garside revealed that there were significant delays throughout the investigation.
It took more than six hours for the missing person’s report to be uploaded into the police system. Additionally, the Police also could not access phone triangulation data to more accurately locate Flack’s mobile device, causing them to rely on less accurate tower data services.
“That’s a sister trying to find her sister. We should be doing better than that,” said Cst. Garside.
“There was plenty more that could be done. You don’t ever reach a point where nothing can be done,” he continued.
Deputy Commissioner Neil Paterson also gave evidence, conceding that Flack’s investigation “could have been managed a lot better”.
“That should not have led to members of her community finding her deceased,” said Deputy Commissioner Paterson.
‘Beautiful And Loyal Friend’
Flack, also known as DJ Brigida, was a musician and LGBTQI advocate. She was beloved by her family, friends and her local community in Yarra.
During the inquest, Pucci Love described her sister as a “beautiful and loyal friend,” who was “smart, artistic and creative.”
Flack was 28 years old when she went missing, on the morning of November 30, 2020.
Eleven days after being reported as missing, Victoria Police’s attempts and a 100-person search party led by Pucci Love and her husband, a body was found in Kew bushland by members of the public. It was later identified as Flack. The body was later identified as Flack.
Flack’s death is one of five individual cases to be investigated during the coronial inquest.
The inquest will continue until Thursday, November 30.