Cases involving the death of a person can have a devastating impact on all concerned. From our perspective, we often deal with people facing the gravest charges after an incident causing loss of life. The gravity of the proceedings can have a devastating emotional impact on our client and their family.
At the same time, all parties will be acutely aware that those others will be grieving after loss and expecting the justice system to deliver some form of closure for them.
A complex issue that often arises is concerning the question of a second post-mortem, often essential so that the defence can probe and question any initial findings, seek out any error and test any alternative hypothesis.
On occasion, the causative issues surrounding death are not in dispute (for example in many road traffic cases) and the Coroner can arrange for the speedy release of a body so that funeral rites can take place. In other cases, the issues can be far more complex, particularly in cases involving infant death, or where complex case theories have been developed by the prosecution (such as alleged killings in a hospital or other environment).
In all cases, we act in the best interests of our client but do so in a considerate and sensitive way, as anyone would rightly expect. When a second post-mortem is necessary, we will request that it be undertaken as soon as practicable.
A particular problem that some suspects can face is the funding of second examinations pre-charge. Unless the suspect is eligible for legal aid, and a great many people are not at this stage of the proceedings, any investigation may need to be funded privately, or via a request to the Coroner. This is an issue that we feel urgently needs addressing as it can contribute to considerable delay, which is not desirable for anyone concerned.
The Senior Coroner issued long-overdue guidance concerning requests for second post-mortem examinations as recently as September 2019.
We keep such guidance very much in mind but will not hesitate to forcefully advance any case for a second post-mortem examination where we feel it is in our client’s best interests to pursue it.
How we can assist
If you need specialist advice in relation to any criminal investigation or prosecution, then get in touch with Hashmita Patel or Stephanie Brownlees on 01902 275 042 and let us help. We can advise on all aspects of your case.