North west Wales coroner's foreign death concerns

A coroner has spoken of the difficulty of getting information for the families of people who die abroad.

Dewi Pritchard Jones, coroner for north west Wales, was speaking at inquests into four foreign deaths.

One was into the 2008 killing of David Roberts, from Caernarfon, in New Zealand. Another was a death in 2002.

He said it was "ridiculous" inquests were required on citizens who died abroad because their funerals were here.

Backpacking trip

Mr Pritchard Jones said he liked to hope families could leave an inquest hearing knowing what had happened to their loved ones.

But he said the difficulty in getting information from the authorities in countries such as Spain, Australia and New Zealand meant those answers were unlikely.

The hearing was told that Gethin Rhys Williams of Llanfairfechan in Conwy, an 18-year-old actor, died in Magalouf on the Spanish island of Majorca in 2002 when he tried to jump across to the balcony of his second-floor apartment.

Mr Pritchard Jones also heard some details of the death of Osian Roberts, 22, from Anglesey, who fell from a bridge in Australia in August 2007 during a year's backpacking trip.

In both cases the coroner recorded verdicts of accidental death.

There was an open verdict on 35-year-old Emyr Williams, a Dolgellau-born systems architect who drowned in 2008 in Australia while surfing on a paddle board.

"Admission of failure"

The final inquest was into the death of 43-year-old David Roberts, a building manager who was stabbed to death trying to prevent an intruder entering his flat in Auckland, New Zealand.

In 2009 his killer Baseem Ridha Kadhim Abbad Al Amery, aged 31, was jailed for life for the killing.

Mr Roberts was unlawfully killed, Mr Pritchard Jones ruled.

He said: "When we ask for files from abroad the response varies.

"Some countries like the Netherlands send us everything with translations.

"Germany send us everything but the French send us very little.

"From Africa we get absolutely nothing. Australia and New Zealand used to co-operate but they now take the view that why should an overseas coroner stick his nose into their business."

He said the current legal position still meant an inquest had to take place.

"Here in the UK we're stuck with the old law which obliges us to hold an inquest. So really today's list is an admission of failure.

"I like to think that families can walk away with the satisfaction of knowing what happened but we're unlikely to know more in these cases here."

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