Horsford: Fresh Inquest Into Woman's Death
5 February 2014, 12:14
The family of a woman found dead at her home in Horsford near Norwich have won a High Court battle for a fresh inquest following an "inadequate'' police investigation.
Two judges in London threw out the original inquest held in September 2011 into the death of 41-year-old shop worker Joanne Foreman, from Horsford, which failed to determine her cause of death.
Announcing the decision, Lord Justice Pitchford said it was common ground to all sides that the police investigation which took place into the circumstances of her death in March 2011 was "inadequate''.
He said: "In consequence, in at least one important respect the evidence presented to the Coroner at the inquest was incomplete and inaccurate.''
The application for a fresh coroner's investigation was brought by Ms Foreman's stepfather Ernest Andrew Brown, with the authority of the Attorney General.
Lord Justice Pitchford, who heard the case with Judge Peter Thornton, said he had reached the conclusion that it was in the "interests of justice'' that a new inquest should be held.
The court ordered that the investigation should be held by the current Senior Coroner for Norfolk or an appropriate coroner nominated by her.
Lord Justice Pitchford continued: "It is not possible to reach a safe and reliable conclusion as to how Joanne Foreman died.
"She did not take any action (with the intention) of ending her life and no other person caused her death.
"In the course of his findings which culminated in the verdict, the coroner excluded the possibility that the deceased had been unlawfully killed or that she had taken her own life.
"However, he recorded that there existed a real possibility that Joanne, who was not a diabetic, had self-inflicted insulin and consumed alcohol in combination which may have caused her death.
"The coroner was unable on the evidence to find that this was the cause of death.
"Subsequent enquiries have effectively eliminated the possibility that the taking of insulin even if it occurred could have made any significant contribution to death."
The judge added: "As a result, a substantial number of enquiries which could have been made were not.
"The error was appreciated only after the inquest when the claimant (Mr Brown) made his formal complaint, and since then a substantial body of further evidence has been obtained."
He said: "While it is not possible to conclude that the verdict following a fresh inquest is likely to be different, I have reached the conclusion that upon this common ground alone it is in the interests of justice that a new inquest should be held.
"It is on the facts of this case a denial of justice that there remain public findings by the coroner which are known to be inaccurate in a material respect."
Norfolk police have told Heart: "We welcome today’s decision and will be offering our full support to the Coroner in preparation for a fresh inquest."