INXS lead guitarist’s loss of finger in boat incident like ‘sticking a knife in a toaster’, hof verhoor

The finger-severing accident that INXS’s lead guitarist says ended his career and cost him more than $1.2m has been likened to sticking a knife in a live toaster.

Tim Farriss is suing a Sydney boat rental company and two boat owners for negligence over a 2015 accident he claims occurred when anchoring equipment unexpectedly moved, causing his left hand to become trapped under the heavy chain.

He also claims he wasn’t properly warned about the equipment.

But the musician’s story for how his hand ended up trapped didn’t add up, the defendants’ lawyer contended on Monday, asserting Farriss must have trodden on a deck button that moved the anchor chain back into the boat.

Barrister John Turnbull SC conceded the equipment, which had no guard over the chain, was dangerous but said reasonable care would keep a user out of harm’s way.

“I’ve likened it to a toaster – your toast gets caught in the toaster … you can’t just stick a knife in there, you’ve got to turn it off,” Mr Turnbull said.

He also denied the machine was defective.

But Farriss’s lawyer urged Justice Richard Cavanagh to widen his gaze to include the entire boat trip, including Farriss driving into northern Sydney’s Akuna Bay on the Australia Day weekend and being unable to find a mooring.

As Farriss dropped anchor, the equipment failed and the musician was left drifting, in wind, on a busy weekend, barrister Adrian Williams said.

“He could not sit and twiddle his thumbs, he didn’t have a mooring to go to, he had to do something," hy het gesê.

The device was “obviously misaligned”, the chain was prone to bunching and the defendants had not taken all steps to maintain their duty of care, despite at least one earlier occasion when the anchor winch failed and had to be operated manually, hy het gesê.

'(Mr Farriss) was put in an awful position,” Williams said.

“What he has lost is more than a finger. He’s lost the ability for his vocation as a performing guitarist. He was not done with that (career) and unsurprisingly, that’s had the effect of depressing him … all for the expense of a small amount of piping and a small amount of machinery.”

If successful, Farriss’s payout could exceed $1.2m, primarily because of a claim INXS could have toured six times after 2015.

While the court lightly debated the comeback in the context of Queen, Dexys Midnight Runners, John Farnham and ABBA, Mr Turnbull contended there was doubt INXS would have ever toured again.

“It’s the evidence you don’t have that rings loudest," hy het gesê, pointing to a lack of statements from bandmates Andrew Farriss, John Farriss and Kirk Pengilly on any potential.

“Where are they?”

Cavanagh stressed he’d make a decision on the evidence – not speculation about other rockers’ success or failure in revival tours.

He’s expected to deliver his judgment in November or December.

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