When the inquest begins, there will be no lawyers representing any parties however any lawyer representing the family of the deceased or any other interested person may be allowed to sit in on the proceedings with special permission of the coroner. The police prosecutor who assists the Coroner in conducting these inquests will normally make the request for any person or family members to be granted leave to sit in on an inquest.
The procedure is as follows:
The Senior police officer present will then call the witnesses one by one to give evidence.
Witnesses are sworn in and the witness goes into the witness box and swears an oath or affirms to tell the truth. The witness is asked to give their name, address, and occupation and he will be asked to give an account from his memory of the events leading up to incident causing the death of the deceased.
The senior officer present will then ask the witness questions where necessary with a view to expanding on what was said by the witness. At the end of the witness’s evidence the jury through its foreman will also have the opportunity to ask the witness questions. The police officer can then ask more question to clarify anything that has come up.
The officer will check whether the family has any questions they would like asked of the witnesses. The coroner can also ask questions along the way. The coroner may request other witnesses to be called if more evidence is needed to clarify an issue.
Once the coroner is satisfied that all the relevant evidence has been heard, they will usually allow the jury to deliberate quietly so that they can arrive at a ‘finding’. Sometimes the finding is handed down on the same day, but in other more complex investigations, the matter may be adjourned to allow the jury sufficient time to arrive at a finding.