A coronial inquest is being held into the death of Harry Evans, who died after being bitten by a sea snake
A coronial inquest is being held into the death of Harry Evans, who died after being bitten by a sea snake

Backpacker ‘robbed of future’ by fatal sea snake bite

AN  ENGLISH backpacker was "the happiest he had been in his adult life" before his shocking death from a sea snake bite while working on a prawn trawler in the Gulf of Carpentaria last year, a coronial inquest heard on Tuesday.

Harry Evans, 23, travelled to Darwin on a two-year working visa in August last year to join the crew of a prawn trawler owned by WA Seafood Exporters, and was bitten by what is believed to be a black banded sea snake about 8.30am on October 4.

The trawler was about 75km northeast of Bing Bong in the Gulf of Carpentaria when the trawler's skipper Nicholas Huard applied a compression bandage and made calls for emergency assistance.

Mr Evans began convulsing and losing consciousness before medical staff arrived on board the vessel about six hours later, at which point he was unable to be saved.

In a statement submitted to Coroner Greg Cavanagh, Mr Evans' mother said he had been "robbed of his future" and that her life and that of Mr Evans' twin brother George had changed forever.

"I have lost one of the two most important things in my life, my reason for everything and my purpose," she said.

"George has lost his twin, his best friend, his constant companion who should have been there for life."

Mr Huard told the inquest he regretted not contacting Mr Evans' mother before his death.

"At one point Harry tried to call his mum when he was still sweet to get his travel insurance info," he said.

"Once he started deteriorating I probably would have tried to call her back."

First mate on the vessel at the time, Chad Hastings, said he had not been told about the dangers of sea snakes when he joined the crew, and only learnt they were venomous when the incident prompted him to google Mr Evans' symptoms.

"He (Harry) asked me 'will I be all right?' and I was unsure but I was trying to calm him down so I said 'you'll be fine'," Mr Hastings said.

"I didn't know that death was going to be an option."

Mr Evans' is only the second recorded death from a sea snake bite in Australian history, with the last one being in 1934, and the first in the fishing industry.

The inquest continues on Wednesday.