Study reveals SA coroner inquest delays

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Coroners in South Australia take longer than their counterparts in other states to finish inquests, a new study revealed.

However, the researchers also pointed out the deficiency of resources available to them and the delay in information that they need to complete their investigations, according to ABC.

According to the study led by Stanford University’s David Studdert and colleagues from the University of Melbourne, 18% of cases in SA extended beyond four years.

The national average was 19 months.

After looking into more than 5,000 inquests held between 2007 and 2013, the researchers found that 87% of South Australian inquests were still not finished after 24 months.

This is in contrast to 21% in New South Wales and 21% in the Northern Territory.

It may not entirely be the fault of coroners, if closing inquests are delayed.

The study cited coroners explaining that insufficient staff, inadequate IT systems and the delay of needed information like obtaining police, pathology and toxicology reports all contribute to inquests being finished earlier.

Assault and homicide cases took on average a year longer to finish, the study found. It also said coroners often wanted to exhaust all criminal avenues or had to wait for internal hospital investigations before finishing an inquest.

“The rationale is that coronial proceedings may prejudice chances of a fair trial,” the report said.

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