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Widow of former AFL player Shane Tuck withdraws from coronial inquest into his death

Shane Tuck was a star player over a decade-long AFL career. (AAP: Mal Fairclough)

The widow of former AFL player Shane Tuck has withdrawn from a coronial inquest into his death, citing concerns about the scope of the investigation.

Katherine Tuck's lawyer Greg Griffin told the Coroners Court of Victoria his client had "grave concerns" about the process and conduct during the inquest.

Shane Tuck died by suicide in 2020, at 38 years old.

A post-mortem examination found the former Richmond midfielder had been suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a severe brain disease linked to repeated knocks to the head.

The condition can only be diagnosed after death and is linked to depression, aggression and paranoia years after the initial injuries.

It was the same disease afflicting St Kilda veteran Danny Frawley, who died in a car crash near Ballarat in 2019.

Ms Tuck's lawyer last year told Coroner John Cain it was unlikely she would continue her involvement with the probe, after they unsuccessfully lobbied for the court to broaden the scope of the investigation.

Ms Tuck wanted the inquest to focus more on the adequacy of the policies surrounding head knocks and concussion when her husband was playing at the AFL, instead of the current scope of current and future guidelines relating to concussion in both boxing and the AFL.

Mr Cain told Ms Tuck in 2021 he was not inclined to "embark on an exercise that involves me apportioning blame as you're seeking to have me do in relation to what Richmond Football Club should or shouldn't have done".

Under its jurisdiction, the job of the coroner is to independently investigate deaths and use the evidence to make recommendations to try and prevent others from dying in a similar way.

Ms Tuck has since become a lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against the AFL over concussion-related injuries.

"Unsurprisingly, our client anticipates that those proceedings are much more likely to provide a just outcome in respect of the death of her husband and the father of her children," Griffins Lawyers told the court in a letter on Wednesday.

Griffins Lawyers is also responsible for the class action lawsuit.

The letter said Ms Tuck was "frustrated by the Coroner's decision to severely limit the scope of the investigation, and the refusal to give any consideration to the policies, guidelines, rules and/or practices of the AFL in respect of concussion and head injuries as were in place at the time of Shane Tuck's playing career, and whether those arrangements were reasonable and proportionate to address the risk of CTE".

"Her concerns in that regard were not aided by the submissions made by the AFL and the Richmond Football Club to that issue, which sought to encourage the Court's narrow approach," her lawyers said.

"In the circumstances, Mrs Tuck considers her further involvement in the matter to be an arid exercise."

In the letter to the court, Mr Griffin outlined a number of his client's concerns, including changes to the draft terms of reference, not wishing to keep paying for what they said  "appears to be little more than a public relations exercise for the AFL" and not receiving a copy of the post-mortem report.

Shane Tuck had a brief stint as a professional boxer after retiring from his 173-game career with the AFL. The letter to the court said suggestions that sport was responsible for his CTE was "greatly upsetting " to Ms Tuck.

"It is a matter of great regret to the widow that the circumstances of the investigation into the death of her husband, and the father of their two children, are such that our client can no longer in good conscience participate in that process," the letter reads.

The inquest is due to be held in June this year. 

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