Coroners and sudden death investigations

Information about deaths that are sudden, unexpected, violent or unnatural and those that occur in legal custody.

The role of a coroner

A coroner is an independent judicial office holder, appointed by a local council. Coroners usually have a legal background but will also be familiar with medical terms.

Coroners investigate deaths reported to them if it appears:

  • the death was violent or unnatural
  • the cause of death is unknown
  • the person died in prison, police custody or another type of state detention

In these cases coroners must investigate to find out, for the benefit of bereaved people and for official records, who has died and how, when and where they died.

Coroners also deal with finds that may be classified as treasure.

North Yorkshire and York coroner 

The Senior Coroner for both North Yorkshire and the City of York is Mr Jon Heath. Find the contact details for Mr Jon Heath.

Post-mortem examination

If a coroner decides an investigation is necessary, a pathologist will normally carry out a post-mortem examination of the body.

The coroner must release the body as soon as possible, after which you can arrange the funeral. You should let the coroner know in writing if you wish to take the body outside of England and Wales.

If the post-mortem examination shows the cause of death, the coroner will send a form to the registrar of births and deaths stating the cause of death. You can then make an appointment to register the death.

Inquest

If it was not possible to find out the cause of death from the post-mortem examination, or the death is found to be unnatural, the coroner must hold an inquest. An inquest is a public court hearing held by the coroner to establish who died and where, when and how they died.

The inquest will be held as soon as possible and normally within six months of the death if at all possible. The coroner will notify you if more time is needed and what to expect in your case.

If the death occurred in prison or custody, or if it resulted from an accident at work, the inquest will usually have a jury.

At the end of the inquest

The coroner or jury comes to a conclusion at the end of an inquest. This includes the legal determination, which states who died and where, when and how they died. The coroner or jury also makes 'findings' to allow the cause of death to be registered. The coroner or jury may use one of the following terms when recording the cause:

  • accident or misadventure
  • alcohol / drug related
  • industrial disease
  • lawful killing
  • natural causes
  • open
  • road traffic collision
  • stillbirth
  • suicide
  • unlawful killing

The coroner or jury may also make a brief 'narrative' conclusion to provide more detail about facts surrounding the death and explain the reasons for the decision.

The coroner will send a form to the registrar after the inquest is complete. The registrar will then register the death based on the coroner's findings. Please note that this may take up to 7 working days after the date of the inquest. You do not need to visit the office for this to occur. The death will be registered in the district in which the person died. 

If you would like a copy of a death certificate, please contact the Registrar for the district in which the person died, and they will be able to explain the different options available to you.

Contact details for Register Offices

North Yorkshire 

Contact us
Request a copy of the death certificates

The City of York

Tel: 01904 654477
Apply online at the City of York Council website.

Keighley and Bradford, West Yorkshire

This includes deaths at Airedale Hospital.

Tel: 01274 432151

Leeds, West Yorkshire

Tel: 0113 2224408
Apply online at the Leeds City Council website.

Lancaster

Tel: 0845 0530021

Teesside

This includes deaths at James Cook University Hospital.

Tel: 01642 729004
Apply online at the Middlesbrough Council website.

Hull

Tel: 01482 300300
Apply online at the Hull City Council website.

If you would like to purchase a copy of the inquest recording please contact us.

Frequently asked questions

Where can I view dates and times of upcoming coroners' inquests?

Details of upcoming coroners' inquests in North Yorkshire can be found below.

By virtue of section 9C of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, some inquests may be dealt with in writing (for instance, without a hearing in court) unless representations are made by email to coronersadmin@northyorks.gov.uk no later than midday the day before the date shown in the list.

Inquests in writing

Date of inquest Name Further details
Monday 3 June 2024 at Coroners Court, 3 Racecourse Lane, Northallerton, DL7 8QZ George-Michael Darren Pawsey-Buckingham Died aged less than 1 day on 22 March 2024 at York Hospital
Thursday 4 June 2024 at Coroners Court, 3 Racecourse Lane, Northallerton, DL7 8QZ John Andrew Marshall Died aged 82 on 23 January 2024 at Selby
Wednesday 12 June 2024 at Coroners Court, 3 Racecourse Lane, Northallerton, DL7 8QZ Alfred Harold Cahill Died aged 97 on 18 October 2023 at York Hospital
   
Alistair Ballantine Died aged 80 on 2 March 2024 at York Hospital
David Alan Hetherington Died aged 62 on 15 December 2023 at Hunmanby
Colin Atkinson Died aged 42 on 16 March 2024 at Scarborough
Thursday 13 June 2024 at Coroners Court, 3 Racecourse Lane, Northallerton, DL7 8QZ Earnie Mennell Died less than 1 day on 13 April 2024 at Scarborough General Hospital

Upcoming hearings

Date, location and time Name Further details
Friday 24 May 2024 at Coroners Court, 3 Racecourse Lane, Northallerton, DL7 8QZ Single hearing inquest
Graham Edward Beverley (commencing at 11am) Died aged 88 on 2 May 2024 at York Hospital
Single hearing inquest
Rosa Maria Uttley (commencing at 11:30am) Died aged 98 on 22 April 2024 at York Hospital
Tuesday 28 May 2024 at Coroners Court, 3 Racecourse Lane, Northallerton, DL7 8QZ Inquest openings
No current openings  
Inquests
Phillip Driffield (commencing at 2pm) Died aged 77 on 9 November 2023 at Harome
Bridie Vance (commencing at 3pm) Died aged 54 on 13 January 2024 at Sherburn in Elmet
Pre inquest review hearing  
Madeleine Kate Forsyth (commencing at 10am) Died aged 22 on 17 April 2023 at York
Brian Edward Barber (commencing at 12 noon) Died aged 86 on 26 January 2023 at Scarborough General Hospital
Single hearing inquest
Martyn Alexander Robert Whyte (commencing at 3:30pm) Died aged 68 on 3 May 2024 at York
Treasure inquest
Treasure 2023 T246 (commencing at 4pm) Post Medieval Gold Posy Ring found at Kirkby Malham
Treasure 2024 T95 (commencing at 4:15pm) Early Medieval Silver Ingot found at Cowesby
Thursday 30 May 2024 at Coroners Court, 3 Racecourse Lane, Northallerton, DL7 8QZ Inquest openings (commencing at 9:30am)
Andrew James Stephen Lynch Died aged 59 on 15 March 2024 at Colburn
Kevin Barry Brolly Died aged 55 on 4 May 2024 at York
Inquests
Mark Britton (commencing at 9:30am) Died aged 59 on 2 May 2024 at Yafforth
Andrew Graham Binns (commencing at 10am) Died aged 30 on 17 March 2023 at Scarborough
Single hearing inquest
Jim Thompson (commencing at 2pm) Died aged 88 on 17 May 2024 at Skipton
Friday 31 May 2024 at Coroners Court, 3 Racecourse Lane, Northallerton, DL7 8QZ Inquest openings
No current openings  
Inquests
Ian Martin Brook (commencing at 11am) Died aged 67 on 3 February 2024 at Gargrave
Michelle Maynard (commencing at 1pm) Died aged 40 on 17 February 2023 at Harrogate
John Michael Brummitt (commencing at 2:30pm) Died aged 85 on 12 May 2024 at Harrogate District Hospital
Anne White (commencing at 3pm) Died aged 83 on 11 May 2024 at Scarborough General Hospital
Single hearing inquest
Robert Martin (commencing at 3:30pm) Died aged 85 on 24 March 2024 at York
Tuesday 4 June 2024 at Coroners Court, 3 Racecourse Lane, Northallerton, DL7 8QZ Inquest openings
No current openings  
Inquests
Eileen Patricia Dickinson (commencing at 10am) Died aged 89 on 10 October 2023 at York Hospital
Adam Charlton Nevins (commencing at 11am) Died aged 57 on 7 April 2023 at Leeds General Infirmary
Wednesday 5 June 2024 at Coroners Court, 3 Racecourse Lane, Northallerton, DL7 8QZ Inquest openings
No current openings  
Inquests
Derek Walmsley (commencing at 10am) Died aged 87 on 3 November 2022 at York Hospital
Monday 10 June 2024 at Coroners Court, 3 Racecourse Lane, Northallerton, DL7 8QZ Inquest openings
No current openings  
Inquests
Nicholas Brendan Roberts (commencing at 10am) Died aged 40 on 2 November 2023 at Harrogate District Hospital
Thursday 13 June 2024 at Coroners Court, 3 Racecourse Lane, Northallerton, DL7 8QZ Charles Robert Bryan (commencing at 10am) Died aged 93 on 14 November 2023 at Harrogate District Hospital
Jean Dewar Watts (commencing at 12 noon) Died aged 99 on 9 December 2023 at Harrogate District Hospital
Wednesday 26 June 2024 at Coroners Court, 3 Racecourse Lane, Northallerton, DL7 8QZ Inquest openings
No current openings  
Inquests
Eileen Betty Kennedy (commencing at 10am) Died aged 87 on 27 December 2022 at York Hospital
Wednesday 17 July 2024 at Coroners Court, 3 Racecourse Lane, Northallerton, DL7 8QZ Inquest openings
No current openings  
Inquests
Ellen Francesca Anderson (commencing at 10am) Died aged 26 on 30 June 2023 at Harrogate
Thursday 18 July 2024 at Coroners Court, 3 Racecourse Lane, Northallerton, DL7 8QZ Inquest openings
No current openings  
Inquests
Ellen Francesca Anderson (commencing at 10am) Died aged 26 on 30 June 2023 at Harrogate

Any timings given for individual inquests are approximate.

When is a death reported to the coroner?

In most cases a death will not need to be reported to a coroner. A hospital doctor or GP can certify the medical cause of death and the death can be registered by the registrar in the usual way.

The police, a registrar, doctor or other person must report deaths to the coroner in the following circumstances:

  • during the last illness a doctor did not attend the deceased or the doctor treating the deceased had not seen them either after death or within the 14 days before death
  • the death was violent, unnatural or occurred under suspicious circumstances
  • the cause of death is not known or uncertain
  • the death was caused by an industrial disease or related in any way to the deceased's employment
  • the death occurred in prison or police custody
  • the deceased was detained under the Mental Health Act
  • the death may be linked to an accident (wherever it occurred)
  • if there is any question of self-neglect or neglect by others
  • the death may have been contributed to by the actions of the deceased (such as an overdose, self-injury, drug or solvent abuse)
  • the deceased was receiving any form of war pension or industrial disability pensions unless the death can be shown to be wholly unconnected
  • the death took place within 24 hours of admission to hospital
  • the death may be related to a medical procedure or treatment (whether invasive or not)
  • the death may be due to a lack of medical care
  • the death occurred while the patient was undergoing an operation or did not recover from the anaesthetic
  • the death was linked to an abortion
  • where there are any allegations of medical mismanagement
  • the case has any other unusual or disturbing features

Organ donation

If you wish to consider organ donation, you will need immediate advice. This can be sought from a hospital or doctor, or from the coroner's officer. The coroner must be told and must agree before organs can be removed. In some cases, organ donation may not be possible for medical reasons or because of delays when a death has to be investigated. 

What are the rules governing exhumation?

Anyone considering applying to move a body that has been interred should, in the first instance, discuss their proposals with the appropriate local church official or undertaker.

The person applying for consent to disinter remains needs to show:

  • the presumed intention of those who committed the body or ashes to a last resting place is to be disregarded or overborne
  • the length of time since the interment has been considered (a prompt application is stronger than one made where the remains have been undisturbed for many months or years)

In every case, the arguments for consent will be weighed against these general principles and against the desire to maintain the churchyard or place set aside for the interment or cremated remains.

Can I take the body abroad or bring it back to this country?

If you wish to take the body abroad, you must give written notice to the coroner, who will tell you within four days whether further enquiries are needed.  You can give written notice to the coroner using this form (pdf / 120 KB)

If you wish to bring the body back to England or Wales, the coroner may need to be involved. In certain circumstances, an inquest may be necessary. You can ask for advice from your local coroner's office.

What does it cost to obtain copies of documents after an inquest?

An 'interested person' can apply to the coroner after the inquest for copies of documents. The coroner will have told you whether you are an 'interested person' before the inquest. 

There may be a fee payable for copies of documents: 

Document Cost
Document disclosed by email Free
Document of ten pages or less disclosed as a paper copy £5
Each subsequent page above ten disclosed as a paper copy  £0.50 per page
Document disclosed by any other means other than email or paper £5 per document
Transcription of an inquest consisting of 360 words or less £6.20
Transcription of an inquest consisting of between 361 and 1,439 words £13.10
Transcription of an inquest consisting of 1,440 words or more (for the first 1,440 words) £13.10
Transcription of an inquest consisting of 1,440 words or more (each additional 72 words or part thereof) £0.70

How do I contact the coroner?

Coroner - Mr J R Heath

Coroner Service Manager - Rachel Davies

The Old Courtroom
3 Racecourse Lane
Northallerton
North Yorkshire
DL7 8QZ

Contact the Coroner Service by email: coronersadmin@northyorks.gov.uk  


View larger map

The North Yorkshire coroners' officers are located in the following police stations: 

Area Coroners' officers address
Harrogate Harrogate Police Station
Beckwith Head Road
Beckwith
Harrogate
HG3 1FR
Scarborough Scarborough Police Station
Northway
Scarborough
YO12 7AD
Selby Selby Police Station
Portholme Road
Selby
North Yorkshire
YO8 4QQ
Skipton Skipton Police Station
Otley Road
Skipton
North Yorkshire
BD23 1EZ
York York Police Station
Fulford Road
York
YO10 4BY

What are the rules and guidance for reporting something that may be treasure?

If you find something that may be treasure you must report all finds to the coroner within: 

  • 14 days after the day you made the find
  • 14 days after the day you realised the find might be treasure (for example, as a result of having it identified)

Everyone is required to report finds, including archaeologists. 

The definition of treasure

The following finds are classed as treasure under the Treasure Act 1996:

Coins

All coins from the same find count as treasure if they are at least 300 years old when found. If the coins contain less than ten per cent of gold or silver, there must be at least ten of them to count as treasure.

Objects other than coins

Any other object may count as treasure if it contains at least ten per cent of gold or silver and is at least 300 years old when found. Note that objects with gold or silver plating normally have less than ten per cent of precious metal.

An object or coin is part of the same find as another object or coin if it is found in the same place as, or had previously been left together with, the other object. Finds may have become scattered since they were originally deposited in the ground.

Only the following groups of coins will normally be regarded as coming from the same find:

  • hoards that have been deliberately hidden
  • smaller groups of coins, such as the contents of purses, that may have been dropped or lost
  • votive or ritual deposits 

Objects that would have been treasure trove

An object that would previously have been treasure trove, but does not fall within the specific categories given, must be made substantially of gold or silver and have been buried with the intention of recovery. You must be also be unable to trace the object's owner or their heirs.

Associated objects

An associated object, whatever it is made of, is found in the same place as, or had previously been together with, another object that is treasure.

The following types of finds are not treasure: 

  • objects whose owners can be traced
  • unworked natural objects, including human and animal remains, even if they are found in association with treasure
  • objects from the foreshore, which are wreck

If you are in doubt about whether an object counts as treasure, it is safest to report your find.

How to report a find of treasure

You may report your find to the coroner in person or by letter or telephone. The coroner's officer will send you an acknowledgement and tell you where you should take your find.

Where to take your find

You will normally be asked to take your find to a local museum or archaeological body. The person who receives the find on behalf of the coroner will give you a receipt. They will need to know where you made the find, but they will keep this information confidential if you (or the landowner) wish. You should also keep the information confidential.

The person receiving the find will notify the Sites and Monuments Record as soon as possible (if that has not already happened) so archaeologists can investigate the site if necessary.

If you fail to report a find of treasure

If you fail to report a find of treasure you could be imprisoned for up to three months or receive a fine of up to £5,000, or both. You will not be breaking the law if you do not report a find because you do not initially recognise it may be treasure, but you should report it once you do realise this.

If the find is not treasure

If the object is clearly not treasure, the museum or archaeological body will inform the coroner.

If the find is treasure

If the museum curator or archaeologist believes the find may be treasure, they will inform the British Museum. The museum will then decide whether they or any other museum may wish to acquire it.

If no museum wishes to acquire the find, the coroner will usually notify the occupier and landowner the office intends to return the object to the finder after 28 days unless an objection is received. If the coroner receives an objection, the find will be retained until the dispute has been settled.

If a museum wants to acquire the find

If a museum wants to acquire part or all of a find, the coroner will hold an inquest to decide whether it is treasure. The coroner will inform the finder, occupier and landowner and they will be able to question witnesses at the inquest. Treasure inquests will normally be held without a jury.

If the find is declared to be treasure, it will be taken to the British Museum so it can be valued.

Receiving a fair price for the find

Any find of treasure a museum wishes to acquire must be valued by the Treasure Valuation Committee, which consists of independent experts who will commission a valuation. You, together with the museum that wishes to acquire the find and any other interested party, will have an opportunity to comment on the valuation and to send in a separate valuation of your own, before the committee makes its recommendation. If you are dissatisfied you can appeal to the Secretary of State.

Loss or damage to the find

The coroner or museum is required to take reasonable steps to ensure the find is not lost or damaged. In the unlikely event this happens, you should be compensated.

Receiving the reward

The person who receives the reward is set out in detail in a Code of Practice. To summarise:

  • those eligible to receive rewards are the finders and landowner and/or occupier: where the finder has permission to search for and remove artefacts on the land where the find was made, the finder will receive their full share of the reward (the finder is responsible to prove permission was granted) 
  • it is normal practice to divide rewards equally between the finder and landowner on a 50:50 basis unless another agreement has been reached between them (if the finder makes an agreement with the landowner/occupier to share a reward, the Secretary of State will normally follow it)
  • if the finder does not remove the whole of a find from the ground but allows archaeologists to excavate the remainder of the find, the original finder will normally be eligible for a reward for the whole find
  • rewards will not normally be payable when an archaeologist makes the find
  • where the finder has committed an offence regarding to a find, has trespassed, or has not followed best practice as set out in the Code of Practice, they may expect no reward at all or a reduced reward. Landowners and occupiers will be eligible for rewards in such cases

The Code of Practice states you should receive a reward within one year of you having delivered your find, although this may take longer in the case of very large finds or those that present special difficulties.

What support will there be if there is an inquest?

An inquest can be a traumatic experience for anyone involved and we understand that the coroners court can be a bewildering place to attend.

The Coroners Courts Support Service

On the day of the inquest there will be a volunteer from the Coroners Courts Support Service. This is an independent Charity founded in 2003 and they provide trained volunteers offering free confidential emotional support to bereaved families, witnesses and others attending an inquest at the Coroners Court.

They can also signpost you to other appropriate organisations and prior to the inquest they can give you support and information. You call call their helpline on 03001112141 (open from 9am to 7pm weekdays and 9am to 2pm on Saturday) or email helpline@ccss.org.uk.

For more information visit the Coroners Courts Support Service website.

The guide to coroner services

The Guide to coroner services is intended for bereaved people and others who may be affected by a coroner investigation or are attending a coroner’s inquest.

For more information visit the Guide to coroner services website.

Where can I view the coroners service privacy policy?

What happens when I go to an inquest?

If the Senior Coroner has written to you as a family member, asking you whether you wish to attend the inquest or not, please ensure you reply by indicating your wishes. Please also let the Coroners administration office know if you will have any particular individual need when you attend.

The Senior Coroner may permit remote participation and/or observation. If you wish this, please let the Coroners administration office know in advance.

Most inquests are held in Northallerton at:

The Old Courtroom
3 Racecourse Lane
Northallerton
North Yorkshire
DL7 8QZ

If the venue is to be at another building, you will be told this in a letter before the Inquest.

There is usually ample parking at this site and it is a 5 minute level walk from Northallerton station.

Please enter the building, there is disabled access, and there is a waiting area for those attending in the entrance hall. Volunteers from the Coroners’ Court Support Service will be available and expecting you, so please make yourself known to them.

Please let the Coroners’ Court Support Service volunteer know whether you have any special requirements, including particulars of any Holy Book you may need, if you are to give evidence.

There are toilets (including disabled) available. Please ask the member of the Coroners Court Support Service to let you through the security door.

There are no catering facilities on site. There are cafes and restaurants in and around the town centre which is a 10 minute walk.

Every effort will be made to start and conclude matters within the allocated hearing time. All Inquest hearings are in public, and the press is entitled to attend and report upon them.

In court

No food or drink is allowed in court. Please ensure you switch off all electronic devices including mobile phones. 

It is a criminal offence to take photographs or videos/video clips or make audio recordings in Court whether with a camera, mobile telephone, video recorder or any other device.