South Yorks coroner’s anger at outdated courtroom

Inquest: Sade Russell.
Inquest: Sade Russell.
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A CORONER has condemned his South Yorkshire courtroom as ‘inadequate’ after violence erupted in an inquest.

Fred Curtis, Doncaster deputy coroner, said he had never experienced anything as disturbing in a law career spanning almost half a century after a man went berserk and smashed fittings at the Union Street court.

Police had to be deployed to restrain and arrest Wayne Russell – but they were only present as trouble was threatened. Normally, there are no security staff at the court.

During the episode in December, Mr Curtis had to leave the courtroom until order was restored.

Russell, of Addison Square, Dinnington, was attending the inquest of his 21-year-old daughter Sade, who died from a drugs overdose.

Her family believed she was unlawfully killed by friends at a party in June 2012, but, recording a narrative verdict, Mr Curtis ruled there was insufficient evidence of that.

Russell was handed a six-month conditional discharge after admitting causing criminal damage to court furniture and recording equipment when he appeared at Doncaster Magistrates’ Court.

Mr Curtis said: “Inappropriate behaviour and disrespect are increasingly common in the coroner’s court.

“Unfortunately, the inadequate court accommodation, which was said to be temporary 20 years ago, does not encourage respect and too often leaves those with bitter opposing interests sitting too close to each other, to witnesses and to the coroner.”

Doncaster Council said it was ‘considering a number of options’ over coroner accommodation.