Talkback radio host Alan Jones enters the Brisbane Supreme Court. Picture AAP/Glenn Hunt
Talkback radio host Alan Jones enters the Brisbane Supreme Court. Picture AAP/Glenn Hunt

Flood studies key to Jones defence

AN EXPERT report relied on by Alan Jones' lawyers in his defamation trial claims a tsunami of water that inundated Grantham in 2011 was formed when a part of the Wagners' quarry collapsed.

Denis, John, Neill and Joe Wagner have sued Alan Jones, Radio 4BC Brisbane, Jones's employer Harbour Radio and journalist Nick Cater for $4.8 million over comments Mr Jones made after the January 2011 floods.

Neill, John and Denis Wagner leave the Supreme Court. Picture: AAP/Glenn Hunt
Neill, John and Denis Wagner leave the Supreme Court. Picture: AAP/Glenn Hunt

A defence hydrology report that relies on dozens of eyewitness statements and triple-0 recordings from locals was the subject of evidence in the Brisbane Supreme Court trial last week. The Wagner family's legal team objects, claiming it contains assumptions.

One of three experts who authored the report, inundation hazard expert Graham Smart, claimed that during the flood, locals were "struck" by a surge water "with considerable force". In evidence, Mr Smart told the court how the "wave" moved a local man's fire truck.

"I talked to him personally and he told me that his truck was full of water at the time, weighing at least five tonnes and in order to, first of all, go over the top of a fire truck and, secondly, to move a fire truck, I've concluded that a surge must have attacked him," Mr Smart said.

"There're so many consistent reports from the eyewitnesses that they can't all be wrong. It can't be a grand conspiracy to use different terminology and different phraseology to describe surge behaviour."

The experts also visited the site and undertook modelling of water levels to compile the report. The accuracy of the modelling has also been disputed by the Wagner family's barrister Tom Blackburn QC.

Mr Smart last week told the court that it was his opinion a blockage was formed when a section of the Wagners' quarry, described as a bund, collapsed.

"We have reports of (water) hitting the railway line and reflecting off, and these are all characteristics of surge behaviour … as could be generated by breaching of a bund," he said.

Whether the bund was man-made or naturally occurring, what area it covered and whether it had any impact on the flooding has been the subject of much of the trial.

Under cross-examination Mr Smart was shown images of a local hotel that did not ­appear to be damaged during the "surge".

Mr Blackburn has described the report as unreliable, telling the court calculations of water levels were inaccurate and relied on levels inside buildings, rather than outside.

The trial resumes tomorrow when cross-examination of Alan Jones will continue.



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