HHJ Thomas Teague QC, the Chief Coroner, has issued Law Sheet No. 6 about the conclusion of unlawful killing in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Maughan.
As a result of the decision in Maughan, the civil standard (balance of probabilities) applies. At any inquest where unlawful killing may be in issue, it will now be particularly important for the coroner to explain the distinction between criminal proceedings and inquests. In some cases of deaths following restraint, medical cases and other situations in which allegations of negligence arise, coroners may be faced with legal submissions to the effect that unlawful killing is a conclusion which is properly open to the coroner or jury. If there has been a criminal trial at which a person has been convicted of a homicide offence, then the coroner or jury at a subsequent inquest could not reach a conclusion to the effect that the offence had not been committed. Dr Anton van Dellen sits as an Assistant Coroner in West London.