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

Author(s) Dartnall, Stephanie and Jane Goodman-Delahunty
Title The coronial investigation of suspected deaths: Prevalence and outcomes in New South Wales
Source Journal of Law and Medicine, March 2016, Vol. 23, pp. 609-627
Date 2016
Document type Journal article
CoverageAustralia
Summary 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.
Keywords Coroner; inquests; suspicious death; missing persons.
Topic Missing persons