Was Coroner Cleland wrong in not considering crucial evidence?
A question: is a coroner bound by the limits (parameters) of his specific objective? In Cleland’s case his coronial objective was to establish whether the body found on December 1 was the same body as that seen on November 30.
Did this legally exclude him from considering evidence to the contrary?
This may well be an exercise in semantics. Cleland, as stated, pursued the objective of proving the morning’s body was the same as the previous evening’s. He failed for lack of proof. Others (yours truly) pursue the objective of proving the evening’s body was not that of the morning’s.
We have found the proof.
It’s not unlike like looking into a mirror for the solution.
Is the law that artless, or was the Coroner wrong in disregarding Strapp’s deposition?
Remarks below are taken from the inquest depositions
Remarks by Coroner Cleland.
“I have been discussing the circumstances on the footing that the body found on the morning of the 1st December was that of the man seen in the evening on the 30th November. But there is no proof* that this was the case.”
“If it (the poison) had not been self-administered, and the body brought there (Somerton Beach), that would remove any doubts as to the time at which death took place, as well as any other difficulties.”
“Although he died during the night of the 30th November – 1st December, I cannot say where he died.”
If the body of the deceased was not that of the man mentioned (seen on the previous evening), and if the body had been taken to the place where it was found, the difficulties disappear.”
Remarks by Professor Cleland.
“The lividity around the ears and neck was perhaps surprising in view of his position, but it was explainable. It would depend on how much the head was supported, it may have been slight, perhaps no more than one’s head supported on a pillow.”
” .. I have considered the circumstances disclosed by the evidence and I came to the opinion, taking all the circumstances into account, that death was almost certainly not natural, and in all probability that some poison had been taken with suicidal intent.”
“I came to that conclusion before I found the piece of paper bearing the words Tamam Shud.”
Remarks by Professor Sir Stanton Hicks.
“If it (the poison) had not been self-administered, and the body brought there (Somerton Beach), that would remove any doubts as to the time at which death took place, as well as any other difficulties.
*Cleland ruled that there was no proof the body found in the morning was the body seen in the evening. But by disregarding Gordon Strapp’s deposition he failed to see proof the body seen in the evening was not the body found in the morning.
”The body seen alive by Gordon Strapps on the evening of 30 November 1948 was wearing striped trousers. The body found dead in the same place the next morning was wearing plain brown trousers.
*Coroner Cleland should have been discussing the circumstances on the footing that the body found on 1st December was not the man seen of the evening of November 30th.
He had the evidence before him.