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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 January 2007, 04:24 GMT
Irwin death video given to wife
Terri and Steve Irwin
Mr Irwin's family do not want the footage to be made public
Australian officials have handed over the only video of "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin's fatal encounter with a stingray to his wife, Terri.

All other copies of the footage have been destroyed to prevent it ever being shown in public, officials said.

The well-known naturalist died on 4 September last year when a stingray barb pierced his heart as he was filming an underwater documentary.

His wife said last year that footage of his death should not be broadcast.

Mr Irwin was famous for his work with native Australian wildlife, and his death sparked mourning across Australia.

'Wrong hands'

There had been speculation that video footage of his death - caught on camera as he was diving to make a documentary about Queensland's Great Barrier Reef - could eventually end up on the internet.

The Queensland state coroner said the only remaining video tape had been given to Terri Irwin just before Christmas.

"The footage has been the subject of widespread media interest and it was wholly appropriate that we took all possible steps to ensure something of such a personal and tragic nature did not fall into the wrong hands," Coroner Michael Barnes said in a statement.

"This is in line with the wishes of the Irwin family."

Last year, Terri Irwin ruled out showing the video in a television interview, saying: "What purpose would that serve?"

On 1 January the road that runs past Mr Irwin's zoo, Australia Zoo, was renamed Steve Irwin Way to commemorate the naturalist.

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