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Sunday, 20 April 2014

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Derrick Bird inquest – the facts

WHY are inquests being held into the deaths and what are their purpose?

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The deaths were unnatural so a fact-finding inquiry is needed to establish who has died and when, where and how.

What is the reason for the coroner choosing a jury to decide the facts of this case?

A jury is usually only required where deaths happened in prison, police custody or in circumstances which may affect public health or safety. However, the coroner has the discretion to turn to a jury if they believe it is appropriate and has apparently done so in this case because of the large public interest.

Why is the inquest of killer Derrick Bird not being held separately from the 12 people he shot dead?

The coroner, Mr David Roberts, has said they should be held together because Bird is the focal point of the shootings and is inextricably linked to each of the deaths.

What is the remit of the jury?

They decide the facts of the case after all the evidence is heard on the 13 deaths, which is expected to last four to five weeks. The coroner will direct them as to the possible verdicts they can return. It is not the role of the jury to apportion blame but they can attribute a death to a specific failure or neglect.

Wasn’t an independent review into how Cumbria police reacted tactically and strategically due to have reported back by now?

The Assistant Chief Constable of West Mercia Police, Simon Chesterton, was due to reveal his findings in January after Cumbria Chief Constable Craig Mackey ordered the review.

The coroner decided parts of the review should be used in evidence and so its publication has been delayed in order not to compromise the proceedings. It will probably be released at the end of the inquest.

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