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Phillip Hughes inquest: Cricketer's death should be ruled an accident, NSW coroner advised

ABC News ABC News 14/10/2016

Phillip Hughes' death was a "tragic accident" that could not have been prevented, his inquest has heard. © AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy Phillip Hughes' death was a "tragic accident" that could not have been prevented, his inquest has heard. The family of Phillip Hughes has stormed out of a coronial inquest into his 2014 death, as the lawyer for Cricket Australia made closing submissions including that player testimony had been honest.

Hughes died after being struck in the neck by a cricket ball in a Sheffield Shield match at the Sydney Cricket Ground on November 25, 2014.

State coroner Michael Barnes is examining the manner and cause of Hughes' death, and may make recommendations regarding public health and safety.

Earlier, counsel assisting the inquiry Kristina Stern SC advised the coroner to not make any recommendations about sledging, or the nature of play leading up Hughes being fatally struck by a ball.

She said "the risks to Phillip were not exacerbated by any such matters" and declared the death an accident.

"It is abundantly clear that once the tragic accident had occurred, there was nothing that could have been done to prevent Phillip's death," Ms Stern advised Mr Barnes.

Members of Hughes' family attending the hearing appeared distressed as Ms Stern made the comments.

Ms Stern also told the inquest that Cricket Australia should continue researching and arranging research into neck protectors or stem guards for players.

Bowling dangers should be investigated: lawyer

Greg and Virginia Hughes walked out after Cricket Australia's lawyer Bruce Hodgkinson SC submitted that all player testimony had been honest.

And Hughes family barrister Greg Melick SC refuted Ms Stern's assertions the bowling style did not exacerbate the accident.

He said the Hughes family believed sustained short-pitched bowling had "increased the risk of injury to Phillip".

He said the family also believed sledging still occurred, and the fact that every player who testified denied anything was said "must cast serious doubts over other evidence".

Mr Melick said the family acknowledged that short-pitched bowling was a "legitimate tactic" but that nine short balls in a row went "too far".

Expert umpires and players had earlier testified that the bowling directed towards Hughes that day had been competitive, but fair.

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