Coroner stops car for one hour to give verdict

A coroner was so keen to help a journalist report an inquest about a baby girl who died after being sexually abused by her father that he interrupted his journey to read his verdict and other important documents out in a mobile phone call.

The Media Lawyer website reported that Press Association reporter Victoria Thake called Lincolnshire county coroner Stuart Fisher on his mobile phone when she discovered that the inquest into the baby’s death had taken place at Louth the previous day, but that most media outlets had not been alerted that it was being held.

"I was given the coroner’s mobile number and called him," Thake said.

"I was astounded when he answered, quite obviously on a carphone, and immediately pulled over, retrieved his file from the boot of the car and proceeded to read, chapter and verse, his entire narrative verdict, as well evidence from key witnesses in the case.

"The phone call must have lasted between 45 minutes and an hour.

"Mr Fisher was so appalled by the baby’s death and outraged that the father had thus far gone unpunished that he wanted the press to run the story.

"He was delighted when I rang him and requested more information and was only too happy to help."

The inquest concerned the death in October 2003 of a 12-week-old girl.

Fisher said the baby died of a combination of heart disease — she had undergone an operation when she was just four days old — and anal trauma.

He said in his narrative verdict: "I find that [the father] was the perpetrator of the horrific injuries that were sustained by this tiny, defenceless and vulnerable child."

Home Office pathologist Professor Guy Rutty, who performed the post mortem examination on the baby girl, described her injuries as "gross" and said they were the worst sexual injuries he had ever seen.

Police said there had been an investigation, but that the Crown Prosecution Service had concluded that there was not enough evidence to secure a conviction against anyone.

The Sun, which had reported the inquest without naming the father, identified him, and published his photograph, in a story it ran last Thursday.

A reporter from a weekly paper in Skegness covered the case, and the BBC local radio station had covered the verdict.

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