Welcome for plan to overhaul inquests

Ruth Dolman and Roy Dolman of Hylton Castle

Ruth Dolman and Roy Dolman of Hylton Castle

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PLANS to end a “postcode lottery” of coroners’ courts have been welcomed by a grieving pensioner.

An overhaul of the coronial system in England and Wales will ensure grieving families will have their needs put first, Justice Minister Helen Grant has pledged.

But the proposed improvements – which include stricter time limits for completing an inquest – come too late for widower Ray Dolman.

He put his life on hold for more than a year while he waited for a date for his wife’s inquest and was too worried about missing it to go on a much-needed break.

Mrs Dolman, from Red House, Sunderland, died at the James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough last March after a heart bypass.

The couple were married for almost 56 years and met on the top deck of a double-decker bus when Mr Dolman worked as a bus driver.

Mr Dolman, 76, said: “I was on tenterhooks in case I missed the inquest.

“I never imagined it would take as long as this and I’m glad something is being done about it.”

Great-gran Mrs Dolman, who was 75 when she died, worked at Maplewood School in Red House.

The inquest will take place later this month.

The overhaul of the inquest system includes coroners having to report any cases that last more than a year to the chief coroner; being required to release bodies for funerals within 30 days; provide greater access to materials, such as post-mortem reports, before the inquest takes place.

Justice Minister Mrs Grant said: “I want to see all coroners delivering the same, efficient service across the board.

“We must be assured that coroners are conducting inquests quickly, with adequate care and with the right support available for relatives.”