Coronial inquests are public hearings held to examine the cause and circumstances surrounding the death of somebody in unusual or unnatural circumstances. Coroners examine reports submitted by police in respect of each death and determine which need to be further investigated. The family of a deceased person can request a coroner to investigate the death of their loved one, although it is ultimately a decision for the coroner as to which deaths require an investigation and inquest.
Coroners have specific powers to assist them in investigating deaths. After an investigation is complete a coroner then decides whether or not an inquest should be held. In making this decision the coroner will take into account the wishes of the deceased’s family and any other interested parties.
At the conclusion of the inquest the coroner must deliver findings in which s/he establishes, if possible, who the deceased was, when and where the deceased died and how they died. Another important function of a coronial inquest is the coroner’s power to make recommendations; for example, recommendations as to how similar deaths might be avoided in the future.
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