HUGH Wilson’s family members say they have fond memories of the reclusive Colac war veteran, including sharing lunch with him the day he died.
A coronial inquest into Mr Wilson’s death has closed, with Coroner Kim Parkinson clearing police of involvement in the hit-run death on September 11, 1976.
Coroner Parkinson found Mr Wilson died after a car struck him while he was walking along Colac-Lavers Hill Road, but ruled there was not enough evidence to prove who had driven the offending vehicle.
Mr Wilson’s sister-in-law Molly and his nieces Verona and Leeane attended Melbourne Coroner’s Court to hear the inquest’s finding.
Mrs Wilson said she was relieved the inquest was over, but still wanted answers about how Mr Wilson died.
“Not everyone knows about the man he really was, he was a lot of fun,” Mrs Wilson said.
“He came around to our house in Colac that day he died, he always used to drop by like that,” she said.
Mrs Wilson’s daughter Verona Wilson said her uncle was a “fun-loving man”.
“I was only about four when he died but I remember him and I remember that day, he used to catch rabbits and he brought them over to our house to eat – he skinned them and then we cooked them up,” she said.
“It’s true that he did enjoy a drink but that wasn’t all he was, he was happy and he used to play with us all the time.”
Molly Wilson said she would contact Mr Wilson’s sole-surviving sibling, Stella Gleed, in Western Australia to tell her about the inquest findings.
“She’s quite frail now but I wanted to be able to give her some news, my husband isn’t here anymore but it would’ve been good if he could hear it too,” Mrs Wilson said.
“This has all gone on for so long,” she said.
Rumours quickly circulated Colac after Mr Wilson’s death, with claims a police car had hit Mr Wilson and the car had secret repairs at Colac’s Laneway Panels.
Coroner Parkinson said that while evidence had shown someone repaired a police car at the panel shop “on the quiet”, it didn’t prove the car was involved in Mr Wilson’s death.
“The police vehicle which was repaired at Laneway Panels at or around the time of Mr Wilson’s death had not sustained the damage likely to have been sustained if it were the vehicle which hit Mr Wilson,” Ms Parkinson said.
She also ruled out allegations that a group of Colac district youths had hit Mr Wilson in a car and then struck him over the head with a piece of wood, labelling those allegations as “unreliable”.
“I find that the cause of death was severe compound fracture of the skull, extensive brain contusion and multiple fractures sustained as a result of the motor vehicle collision in which he was a pedestrian,” Ms Parkinson said.
“The available evidence does not support a conclusion that a police vehicle struck Mr Wilson.”