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Crime Fiction: The Purpose of an Inquest by R.C. Bridgestock

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RG Bridgestock

RC Bridgestock

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RC Bridgestock is the name that husband and wife co-authors Robert (Bob) and Carol Bridgestock write under. Between them they have nearly 50 years of police experience, offering an authentic edge to their stories. The writing duo created the character DI Jack Dylan, a down-to- earth detective, written with warmth and humour.

As they say themselves: Fact is often stranger than anything we can make up, and in the ‘real world’ if we didn’t laugh we would most definitely cry – no matter how hardened we think we are. Of course, 47 years of frontline policing is drawn upon to write our crime fiction, but we also pride ourselves in keeping abreast of changes, whether to the police service, police procedure, technology and forensic science advances.

Here, they give us the benefit of their huge experience in detailing the purpose of an inquest and how such a scene should be used in crime fiction:

Most people have heard the word inquest but have no idea what one is…

I have spent countless hours giving evidence in Coroners court, in my capacity as a police officer. In the last five years of my thirty-year police career this includes as the Detective Superintendent in charge of murder enquiries.

A coroner is usually lawyers or doctors with more than five years’ experience in that role. The liaison between the coroner and the police is via a coroner’s officer who is often an ex police officer.

So, we can conclude from this that an inquest is carried out by a coroner if the cause of death is possibly violent, unknown or unnatural, or in police custody.

It is the coroner’s duty to establish who the deceased was and how, when and where they died. So, before the inquest I would have sat with the deceased family and told them ALL the facts of their death no matter how awful and painful that is, because they will hear it from the coroner, in front of all present in the court room. On that day I would aid the fact-finding process by informing them, at the inquest of what happened and how it happened. Inquests do not apportion responsibility for the death.

What you may not know is that members of the public and journalists have the right to attend the inquest and report on it.

During an inquest, witnesses chosen by the coroner will give evidence – hence my involvement. I would attend and summarise events in my own words, before being asked questions to clarify any points raised. Likewise would the others.

What I was unaware of before attending coroners court was that anyone who has a proper interest can also question a witness. This can include a parent, child, spouse, personal representative or partner of the deceased. However they are only able to ask questions relating to the medical cause and circumstances of the death.

At this time, it is also possible for a relative of the deceased to be represented by a lawyer. This may be particularly important where a compensation claim may be made, such as if the death was as a result of a road accident or an accident at work.

If the corner decides to investigate a death, registration of the death must wait for the coroner to finish the inquiries. These inquiries may take a considerable time in the case of a murder investigation for example. An inquest would be opened and then closed, until the outcome of the investigation, maintaining communication with the SIO.

After the inquest, the coroner will send all necessary details to the registrar of births and deaths for the death to be registered. An interim certificate of fact of death can be issued by the coroner until the inquest has been concluded at a later date. This certificate is acceptable in most cases for banks and other financial institutions, unless it is important for them to know the outcome of the inquest, for example, for an insurance settlement. It can also be used for benefit claims and National Insurance purposes.

An inquest is very often open and closed until a post-mortem has been carried out.

c) RC Bridgestock

 

About When a Killer Strikes:

“Boss, we’ve got a body”.
Detective Sergeant Vicky Hardacre, greets him at the scene, but what awaits them behind the blood red door of Colonial House is undoubtedly a murder. The approach identifies several prime suspects. But who is telling the truth; and who is lying?
Before the killer can be caught, another body is discovered, this time in a putrefying mixture of mud and slime, lain among the remnants of decaying food within a waste-bin shelter. Now it’s the task of the man in charge to make the call.
Are the two murders connected?
There’s only one way to find out, and that’s by working long hours, within strict budgets, and the usual pressure from above to obtain quick results.
However, Dylan is distracted by personal matters, with Jen being keen to seal the deal on a renovation project. He suggests they delay finalising the purchase; until he discovers the significance of the house, and that it’s about to be demolished.
In his absence, Jen’s pleas for help from his estranged siblings are answered, resulting in hidden secrets coming to light, as Dylan continues, through a twisting and turning plot, to ensure justice is done in respect of the murder victims, whose bright hopes for the future were cruelly snatched away.

Order your copy of this and the previous books in the DI Jack Dylan series here.

The RC Bridgestock website is www.rcbridgestock.com
We also blog @ www.blog.rcbridgestock.com
Twitter @RCBridgestock
LinkedIn @ Bob Bridgestock
Facebook RC Bridgestock

 

About the author

Bob Bridgestock was a highly commended career detective of 30 years, retiring at the rank of Detective Superintendent. During his last three years he took charge of 26 murders, 23 major incidents, over 50 suspicious deaths and numerous sexual assaults. He was also a trained hostage negotiator dealing with suicide interventions, kidnap, terrorism and extortion.
As a Detective Inspector he spent three years at the internationally acclaimed West Yorkshire Police Force Training School where he taught Detectives from all over the world in the whole spectrum of investigative skills and the law. On promotion to Detective Superintendent Bob was seconded to a protracted enquiry investigating alleged police corruption in another force. He worked on the Yorkshire Ripper and Sarah Harper murder, and received praise from Crown Court Judges and Chief Constables alike for outstanding work at all ranks, including winning the much coveted Dennis Hoban Trophy.
As a police civilian supervisor Carol Brisgestock also received a Chief Constable’s commendation for outstanding work.
The couple are the storyline consultants on BAFTA winning BBC One police drama Happy Valley and series 3 of ITV’s Scott & Bailey. Carol started and chaired the Wight Fair Writers’ Circle in 2008, along with Bob where she created an annual charitable community writing competition to inspire others of all ages.
The couple pride themselves on being up-to- date on past and present day UK police procedures, and as a result Bob is regularly sought by UK television, radio and national and local newspapers for comment on developing major crime incidents etc. And they have taken part in Radio 4 (Steve) PUNT P.I.
Together they can be regularly seen as speakers at a variety of events in the literary world and work with colleges and schools in providing writing seminars and workshops. Three RC Bridgestock trophies are annually achieved by students.

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