Footage of the late TV naturalist Steve Irwin's death has been handed to his widow TERRI "to ensure it does not pass into the wrong hands".
Irwin died from a stingray barb to the chest when he was filming on Australia's Great Barrier Reef last year (SEP06) and there were fears the tragic last moments of his life - caught on camera - would be leaked onto the internet in time.
However, Queensland coroner MICHAEL BARNES reveals he has given the original footage of the death to Terri and destroyed his own copy in a break from usual legal practice. A coroner would normally keep a tape for records.
Barnes says police told him it could have been worth "hundreds of thousands of dollars in the wrong hands".
He adds, "We have an obligation to ensure it isn't leaked, and it is very difficult to maintain security over those sorts of things when they are put into archives or wherever else."
An inquiry verdict, probably of accidental death, is expected later this month (JAN07) or in February.
Steve Irwin brings his popular Animal Planet antics to the big screen in The Crocodile...