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Inquest Procedure

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iloveglee | 20:21 Fri 10th Nov 2023 | Law
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Is anyone able to give me any information about an inquest procedure.  I know is it not adversarial as in a court case, but just to establish who died, where and when they died and how.  But not why.  And to give a cause of death. 

Background for the query.  Some very good friends/family have lost their daughter/sister in very tragic circumstances.  There was an overdose of drug/s involved, and only one person was present at the time of what led to the death and that was her partner. There had been previous serious mental health issues with the deceased, and therefore this could be a case of suicide.   The partner who was present is seen by the family as a bad person and a liar, is will therefore not be believed.  

The family have asked my husband to be the person to ask questions as none of them feel able to do this.  As such I am  intending to be present also, but neither of us has ever been to an inquest so really dont know what to expect.  

Is the normal process that anyone who has been interviewed, which will be the partner, paramedics, hospital staff,  friends and family, work colleagues, will be called to give evidence in person, or would it be just that their statements are read out.  Will the family have access to these statements prior to the hearing, so that they can work out questions they may want to ask in advance.  

It is a pretty complex case and we are fairly sure there will be a large bundle of documents, not least interview/s by the police of the partner, as he was known previously to them for domestic abuse and drug taking, if not dealing.  The family know from previous incidents he was a very controlling if not abuse person to their daughter, but they were not able to persuade her to sever contact with him.  The inquest is set for mid december, so it is being assumed that no criminal action is being taken against the partner, so there is no suspicion that he is responsible for the death.  I know that the inquest is not there to determine responsibility for the death.  

I'd be very grateful for any information at all that anyone can offer.  




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looking at dates too, the inquest was mid october, and i was liaising with the solicitor and barrister in at least mid-aug making me think i had the bundle for at least 8 weeks

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thanks bednobs for this.  we have suggested that a better method of contacting them might be by email but this seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

I believe they are floundering, but our friend is a bit of a control freak, and thinks that he, and only he is the only person who can deal with this.  My husband has gently tried to offer suggestions, but even he is having trouble keeping up with it.  There is so much anger and blame bound up in the whole thing, towards a variety of people, and they are having trouble separating out in their heads what is relevant to the inquest and what is just their desire to assign responsibility.  

The one thing they absolutely do not want, and will not do, is come to terms with the deceased person, who is their middle daughter, her part in this.  she opted to be with this man, even though she had been warned by the police about his history, which isn't particularly edifying, far from it.  

it's so hard, but i guess you have to do what the family want.

The problem is, there are no do-overs

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bednobs. its a shocking situation for so many reasons, with very complex family relationships within the wider family. As good friends and also parents in law to one of their other daughters we really feel for them, and are trying to help as best we can.  

I do know that one or more of the family are hoping to be able to express their feelings towards their deceased daughter's partner, and am a bit concerned that they might be tempted to speak out when they are not allowed to and end up taken out of court.  There is a huge amount of suppressed anger within most of them, they know they are going to hear stuff no family should ever have to hear, which is why I, at least, feel it is so important that they get hold of this bundle so at least they know for sure what's coming.  

As of yet, they don't really know who will be giving evidence in person, and which will just be statements read out in court.  There were paramedics involved, 999 call operative, hospital staff in A&E and ITU, plus assorted friends, neighbours, work colleagues etc.  To say nothing of the partner!!  It's an awful lot of witnesses, and I wonder whether they will all be called. 

I'm sure all will be revealed in the fulness of time, and in the end my husband may not need to ask any questions.  He's certainly not looking forward to doing so, but as a friend wouldn't have refused.  

remember the coroner decides who it is who died, the date and what from.

he also decides which witnesses will be called and which statements will just be read out.

he MAY therefore exclude a lot of what the family wish to say.

I was called because..... I was the one who stayed longest with the deceased, from the time he was knocked down ( in my case) to his death. ( knocked down by the car in front)

our coroner was a woman. i hear they let girls do that now ...

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As an update to this, the family have now received the inquest documentation, but it raises more questions than answers.  The person who was with her when she went into the cardiac arrest that subsequently led to her death, and who was with her from 4pm the evening before the day of her death, has given a witness statement.  

The coroner has decided that under rule 23, all witness statements will be read out in court, and no witnesses will be called.  The family have questions for the person who was last to see her alive, but this cannot be done in court as he will not be there.

Is there any way that further questions could be put to him via the Coroner, or is it possible to request that, after all, this person should be called to attend.  

The deceased person had died from a drug overdose, which he apparently knew about at the time, although he denies knowing what, and how much she took.  They want to ask him more about this, but how would they do that.  

just ask him? i cant see how the coroner would get a different answer  really - if he's lying, he'll continue to lie, if he;s truthing, he'll continue to truth

glad they got the bundle

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Bedknobs.  Yes they got the bundle, although they did have to request it.  Maybe it would have come automatically at some stage, but they wanted to have time to inwardly digest it, as some of the information was hard to take.

As far as asking the partner questions, this is never going to happen outside of a court situation.  There is no contact whatsoever with him, thankfully, as there is every good chance if they knew where to find him there might be criminal court case ensue, and it wouldn't be him in the dock!!

The only place they could have asked these questions was the court.  Personally I doubt that the coroner would even have allowed it, since all the questions they want to ask do not answer the question, did she take the overdose with the intent to kill herself, or was it a tragic misadventure.  If she wasn't aware of the danger she was putting herself in, then just a misadventure, if she was aware then maybe the intent was to die.  

Personally, having read all the documentation I could put up a good case for both eventualities, thankfully I am not the one going to have to come to a verdict. 

What they have decided, is produce a list of questions for the coroner, asking the questions they were planning to ask him if he were there in person, and see what the response.  I very much fear they probably won't get anywhere, because we know they are looking to blame him (and frankly there is a lot to blame him for), but this is not within the remit of the inquest.  

It has to be very hard for a family to try and take on board that there is much about this that they are never going to know, as the only person who could have answered these questions with any accuracy, is no longer alive to do so.  Sorry state of affairs all around, we feel for them so much, but have no way we can help them.

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As an update, as people were so kind as to respond.  The inquest has taken place, all rather a formality really, the coroner used rule 23 and no witnesses were called, apart from the police officer attached to the coroners office. 

The verdict was drug related death, not sufficient evidence for suicide, and not an accident as she had taken the drugs voluntarily.  They had all the documents prior to the day, so knew what was going to be said, or more summarised by the coroner.

The coroner was so kind, and understanding.  There were things the family wanted to say, that really had no bearing on the verdict, but he understood their need to be heard.  The family are all in turmoil, for very many reasons, and i hope that now the inquest is behind them, they can begin to rebuild their lives, with the good memories of their daughter. 

It must be a relief that the formalities are over, I'm pleased that the family had the chance to speak and that the coroner was sympathetic. 


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