Inquest delayed so PPS can review case of biker’s assault death


An inquest into the suspicious death of a Belfast man was put on hold yesterday so that the Public Prosecution Service could review an independent pathology report into the cause of death.

In May 2008 James Patrick McGauran, then 41, died from a head injury after reportedly suffering an assault at Castle Archdale Country Park caravan park in Co Fermanagh.

The deceased, who was from Kestrel Grange in Dunmurry, was found by a passer-by. A man in his 30s was arrested but police confirmed that nobody was ever charged in relation to the assault.

Mr McGuaran was a member of the biking fraternity and was one of a group of friends who had stopped off at the caravan park.

At a preliminary hearing in May’s Chambers in Belfast yesterday, Coroner Jim Kitson said he had been planning to fix a date for Mr McGauran’s inquest hearing of 7 to 9 April.

He said to barrister Jonathan Connolly, acting for the McGuaran family: “The purpose of today’s hearing is that you recently received instruction from your solicitors that you wanted me to consider calling a list of one to 30 witnesses.”

This had resulted from an independent pathology report from Dr Derek Carson, Mr Kitson said, which the coroner noted had been limited in scope because it was based on photos and did not involve examining Mr McGuaran’s remains.

Mr Connolly said the view of his instructing solicitors had been crystallised by the report, which should “put the court on notice because it looks like this would be referred to the police and Public Prosecution Service (PPS) at minimum for a review of the evidence as it stands”.

Mr Kitson agreed that it could justify “a wider inquest” and that “in light of Dr Carson’s report” the case should be reviewed. “Other authorities may wish to take this forward.”

He added: “I will send a report of today’s proceedings to the PPS for further review.”

He therefore declined to fix a date for the inquest until the PPS has an opportunity to review the evidence.