The coronial investigation of suspected deaths: Prevalence and outcomes in New South Wales

Stephanie Dartnall, Jane Goodman-Delahunty

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4 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

In Australia, the investigation of a missing person who remains unlocated may
be reported to the coroner as a suspected death. In the first study of its kind in
Australia, archival records on suspected deaths investigated by New South
Wales coroners from 2000 to 2013 were aggregated to assess the number of
inquests, investigation timeframes, findings, recommendations and responses
thereto. Of 322 suspected deaths, 96% resulted in an inquest, with the majority
(94%) yielding a finding that the missing person was deceased with the cause
(81%) and manner (73%) of death predominantly unknown. In one-third of the
cases, more than 20 years lapsed from the date of disappearance to closure of
the coronial investigation. Formal recommendations were made in 15% of the
cases. These findings on the processes and outcomes of suspected death
investigations are of particular import to relatives of missing people. Challenges in accessing records and the broader implications of the findings are
discussed
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)609-627
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Law and Medicine
Volume23
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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