An inquest is a judicial inquiry in common law jurisdictions, particularly one held to determine the cause of a person's death. Conducted by a judge, jury, or government official, an inquest may or may not require an autopsy carried out by a coroner or medical examiner. Generally, inquests are conducted only when deaths are sudden or unexplained. An inquest may be called at the behest of a coroner, judge, prosecutor, or, in some jurisdictions, upon a formal request from the public. A coroner's jury may be convened to assist in this type of proceeding. Inquest can also mean such a jury and the result of such an investigation. In general usage, inquest is also used to mean any investigation or inquiry.
An inquest uses witnesses, but suspects are not permitted to defend themselves. The verdict can be, for example, natural death, accidental death, misadventure, suicide, or murder. If the verdict is murder or culpable accident, criminal prosecution may follow, and suspects are able to defend themselves there.
Since juries are not used in most European civil law systems, these do not have any (jury) procedure similar to an inquest, but medical evidence and professional witnesses have been used in court in continental Europe for centuries.
The inquest, as a means of settling a matter of fact, developed in Scandinavia and the Carolingian Empire before the end of the tenth century. It was the method of gathering the survey data for the Domesday Book in England after the Norman conquest. In his account of the culture of the Gauls (Commentarii de Bello Gallico VI.19.3), Julius Caesar mentions a very early use of the procedure: "if a matter comes into suspicion about a death, they hold an inquiry (a quaestio) concerning the wives in the method used for slaves, and if guilt is established, they kill the wives, who have been tortured, with fire and all torments."
In England and Wales, all inquests were once conducted with a jury. They acted somewhat like a grand jury, determining whether a person should be committed to trial in connection to a death. Such a jury was made up of up to twenty-three men, and required the votes of twelve to render a decision. Similar to a grand jury, a coroner's jury merely accused, it did not convict.
Since 1927, coroner's juries have rarely been used in England. Under the Coroners Act 1988, a jury is only required to be convened in cases where the death occurred in prison, police custody, or in circumstances which may affect public health or safety. The coroner can actually choose to convene a jury in any investigation, but in practice this is rare. The qualifications to sit on a coroner's jury are the same as those to sit on a jury in the Crown Court, the High Court, and the County Court.
Additionally, a coroner's jury only determines the cause of death, its ruling does not commit a person to trial. While grand juries, which did have the power to indict, were abolished in the United Kingdom by 1948 (after being effectively stopped in 1933), coroner's juries retained those powers until the Criminal Law Act 1977. This change came about after Lord Lucan was charged in 1975 by a coroner's jury in the death of Sandra Rivett, his children's nanny.
The charity Inquest looks at inquests concerning contentious deaths including those in places of detention, and has campaigned for reforms to the inquest and coroner's system in England and Wales.
There are no inquests or coroners in Scotland, where sudden unnatural deaths are reported to, and investigated on behalf of, the procurator fiscal for an area. The procurator fiscal has a duty to investigate all sudden, suspicious, accidental, unexpected and unexplained deaths and any death occurring in circumstances that give rise to serious public concern. Where a death is reported, the procurator fiscal will investigate the circumstances of the death, attempt to find out the cause of the death and consider whether criminal proceedings or a fatal accident inquiry is appropriate. In the majority of cases reported to the procurator fiscal, early enquiries rule out suspicious circumstances and establish that the death was due to natural causes.
Deaths are usually brought to the attention of the procurator fiscal through reports from the police, the registrar, GPs or hospital doctors. However, anyone who has concerns about the circumstances of a death can report it to the procurator fiscal. There are certain categories of deaths that must be enquired into, but the procurator fiscal may enquire into any death brought to his notice.
In the United States, inquests are generally conducted by coroners, who are generally officials of a county or city. These inquests are not themselves trials, but investigations. Depending on the state, they may be characterized as judicial, quasi-judicial, or non-judicial proceedings. Inquests, and the necessity for holding them, are matters of statutory law in the United States. Statutes may also regulate the requirement for summoning and swearing a coroner's jury. Inquests themselves generally are public proceedings, though the accused may not be entitled to attend. Coroners may compel witnesses to attend and give testimony at inquires, and may punish a witness for refusing to testify according to statute. Coroners are generally not bound by the jury's conclusion, and have broad discretion, which in many jurisdictions cannot be appealed. The effect of a coroner's verdict at common law was equivalent to a finding by a grand jury, whereas some statutes provide that a verdict makes the accused liable for arrest. Generally, the county or city is responsible for the fees of conducting an inquest, but some statutes have provided for the recovery of such costs. Whether the evidence presented at an inquest can be used in subsequent civil actions depends on the jurisdiction, though at common law, the inquest verdict was admissible to show cause of death. Coroners' reports and findings, on the other hand, are generally admissible.
About an Inquest (French: Autour d'une enquête) is a 1931 German crime film directed by Henri Chomette and Robert Siodmak and starring Annabella, Jean Périer and Colette Darfeuil. It was produced by UFA, as the French-language version of the studio's film Inquest. Such multiple-language versions were common in the early years of sound before dubbing became widespread.
It was shot at the Babelsberg Studios in Berlin. The film's sets were designed by the art director Erich Kettelhut.Chappaquiddick incident
The Chappaquiddick incident was a single-vehicle car accident that occurred on Chappaquiddick Island in Massachusetts on Friday, July 18, 1969. The late-night accident was caused by Senator Ted Kennedy's negligence and resulted in the death of his 28-year-old passenger Mary Jo Kopechne, who was trapped inside the vehicle.According to Kennedy's testimony, he accidentally drove his car off the one-lane bridge and into the tide-swept Poucha Pond. He swam free, left the scene, and did not report the accident to the police for ten hours; Kopechne died inside the fully submerged car. The car with Kopechne's body inside was recovered by a diver the next day, minutes before Kennedy reported the accident to the police. Kennedy pleaded guilty to a charge of leaving the scene of an accident causing personal injury and later received a two-month suspended jail sentence.
The Chappaquiddick incident became national news that likely influenced Kennedy's decision not to campaign for President in 1972 and 1976, and it was said to have undermined his chances of ever becoming President.Coroner
A coroner is a government official who is empowered to conduct or order an inquest into the manner or cause of death, and to investigate or confirm the identity of an unknown person who has been found dead within the coroner's jurisdiction.
In medieval times, English coroners were Crown officials who held financial powers and conducted some judicial investigations in order to counterbalance the power of sheriffs.
The word coroner derives from the same source as the word crown, and it is believed to denote an officer of the Crown.Da Vinci's Inquest
Da Vinci's Inquest was a Canadian dramatic television series which originally aired on CBC Television from 1998 to 2005. While never a ratings blockbuster, the critically acclaimed show did attract a loyal following, and ultimately seven seasons of thirteen episodes each were filmed for a total of ninety-one episodes.The show, set and filmed in Vancouver, starred Nicholas Campbell as Dominic Da Vinci, once an undercover officer for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, but now a crusading coroner who seeks justice in the cases he investigates.The cast also included Gwynyth Walsh as Da Vinci's ex-wife and chief pathologist Patricia Da Vinci, Donnelly Rhodes as detective Leo Shannon, and Ian Tracey as detective Mick Leary.Death of Azaria Chamberlain
Azaria Chantel Loren Chamberlain (11 June – 17 August 1980) was an Australian two-month-old baby girl who was killed by a dingo on the night of 17 August 1980, on a family camping trip to Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock) in the Northern Territory. Her body was never found. Her parents, Lindy and Michael Chamberlain, reported that she had been taken from their tent by a dingo. Lindy Chamberlain was, however, tried for murder and spent more than three years in prison. She was released when a piece of Azaria's clothing was found near a dingo lair, and new inquests were opened. In 2012, 32 years after Azaria's death, the Chamberlains' version of events was officially supported by a coroner.
An initial inquest held in Alice Springs supported the parents' claim and was highly critical of the police investigation. The findings of the inquest were broadcast live on television—a first in Australia. Subsequently, after a further investigation and a second inquest held in Darwin, Lindy Chamberlain was tried for murder, convicted on 29 October 1982 and sentenced to life imprisonment. Azaria's father, Michael Chamberlain, was convicted as an accessory after the fact and given a suspended sentence. The media focus for the trial was unusually intense and aroused accusations of sensationalism, while the trial itself was criticised for being unprofessional and biased. The Chamberlains made several unsuccessful appeals, including the final High Court appeal. This was one of the biggest and most misunderstood cases in Australian history.
After all legal options had been exhausted, the chance discovery in 1986 of a piece of Azaria's clothing in an area with numerous dingo lairs led to Lindy Chamberlain's release from prison. On 15 September 1988, the Northern Territory Court of Criminal Appeals unanimously overturned all convictions against Lindy and Michael Chamberlain. A third inquest was conducted in 1995, which resulted in an "open" finding. At a fourth inquest held on 12 June 2012, Coroner Elizabeth Morris delivered her findings that Azaria Chamberlain had been taken and killed by a dingo. After being released, Lindy Chamberlain was paid $1.3 million for false imprisonment and an amended death certificate was issued.Numerous books have been written about the case. The story has been made into a TV movie, a feature film, Evil Angels (released outside Australia and New Zealand as A Cry in the Dark), a TV miniseries, a play by Brooke Pierce, a concept album by Australian band The Paradise Motel and an opera, Lindy, by Moya Henderson.Death of Diana, Princess of Wales
On 31 August 1997, Diana, Princess of Wales died in hospital as a result of injuries sustained in a car crash in the Pont de l'Alma road tunnel in Paris, France. Her companion, Dodi Fayed, and the driver of the Mercedes S280, Henri Paul, were pronounced dead at the scene. A fourth passenger in the car, bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones, was seriously injured but survived.
Although the media blamed the behaviour of the paparazzi who followed the car, a French judicial investigation in 1999 found that the crash was caused by Henri Paul, who lost control of the Mercedes at high speed while he was intoxicated and under the effects of prescription drugs. As a result, it was confirmed that no criminal charges would be issued against any of the pursuing photographers.
Paul was the deputy head of security at the Hôtel Ritz at the time of the crash and had goaded the paparazzi waiting outside the hotel earlier. His inebriation may have been made worse by anti-depressants and traces of an anti-psychotic in his body. The investigation concluded that the photographers were not near the Mercedes when it crashed. After hearing evidence at the British inquest in 2008, a jury returned a verdict of "unlawful killing" by Paul and the paparazzi pursuing the car.Diana's death caused a substantial outpouring of worldwide grief, including numerous floral tributes, and her funeral was watched by an estimated 2 billion people. The Royal Family were criticised in the press for their reaction to Diana's death.Death of Jean Charles de Menezes
Jean Charles da Silva e de Menezes (pronounced [ʒeˈɐ̃ ˈʃaʁlis dʒi meˈnezis] in Brazilian Portuguese; 7 January 1978 – 22 July 2005) was a Brazilian man killed by officers of the London Metropolitan Police Service at Stockwell station on the London Underground, after he was wrongly deemed to be one of the fugitives involved in the previous day's failed bombing attempts. These events took place two weeks after the London bombings of 7 July 2005, in which 52 people were killed.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) launched two investigations. Stockwell 1, the findings of which were initially kept secret, concluded that none of the officers would face disciplinary charges. Stockwell 2 strongly criticised the police command structure and communications to the public. In July 2006, the Crown Prosecution Service said that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute any named individual police officers in a personal capacity, although a criminal prosecution of the Commissioner in his official capacity on behalf of his police force was brought under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, on the failure of the duty of care due to Menezes. The Commissioner was found guilty and his office was fined. On 12 December 2008 an inquest returned an open verdict.Death of Mark Duggan
Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old British man, was shot and fatally wounded by police in Tottenham, North London, England, on 4 August 2011. The Metropolitan Police stated that officers were attempting to arrest Duggan on suspicion of planning an attack, and that he was in possession of a handgun. Duggan died from a gunshot wound to the chest. The circumstances of Duggan's death resulted in public protests in Tottenham, which led to conflict with police and escalated into riots across London and other English cities.Duggan was under investigation by Operation Trident, a subdivision of the Metropolitan Police. He was known to be in possession of a BBM Bruni Model 92 handgun (a blank-firing replica of a Beretta 92 converted to fire live rounds), given to him by Kevin Hutchinson-Foster, 15 minutes before he was shot. At a trial of Hutchinson-Foster in September–October 2012 the jury failed to reach a verdict. At his re-trial, on 31 January 2013, Hutchinson-Foster was convicted of supplying Duggan with the gun and jailed. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has been investigating the case but has delayed release of its report for more than a year. A public inquest on the Duggan death began on 16 September 2013, and ended on 8 January 2014 with an 8–2 majority concluding that Duggan's death was a lawful killing.The official account of Duggan's death has undergone numerous changes, attracting criticism and suspicion from interested parties and other supporters. These critics accuse police of misconduct and of failing to cooperate with those investigating Duggan's death.Death on the Rock
"Death on the Rock" is a controversial television documentary, an episode of Thames Television's current affairs series This Week, broadcast in the United Kingdom on ITV on 28 April 1988. The programme examined the deaths of three Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) members in Gibraltar on 6 March 1988 at the hands of the British Special Air Service (codenamed "Operation Flavius"). "Death on the Rock" presented evidence that the IRA members were shot without warning or while attempting to surrender. It was condemned by the British government, while tabloid newspapers denounced it as sensationalist. "Death on the Rock" subsequently became the first individual documentary to be the subject of an independent inquiry, in which it was largely vindicated.
The project began after it emerged that the three IRA members shot in Gibraltar were found to be unarmed and not in possession of a bomb. The series' editor, Roger Bolton, dispatched journalists to Gibraltar and Spain, where they interviewed several people who witnessed the shootings as well as Spanish police officers who had been involved in surveillance of the IRA team. The journalists also filmed the funerals of the IRA members in Belfast. Satisfied by the journalists' findings, Bolton sought a conclusion to the programme; as the British government refused to comment, Bolton recruited a leading human rights lawyer to give his opinion on the findings. The documentary was broadcast on 28 April 1988 (just under two months after the shootings), despite two attempts by Foreign Secretary Sir Geoffrey Howe to have the Independent Broadcasting Authority postpone the broadcast. Using the eyewitness statements, the documentary questioned the government's version of events, and suggested that the three IRA members may have been unlawfully killed. Reporter Julian Manyon summed up the programme's findings: none of the witnesses interviewed for the programme heard the soldiers challenge the trio before opening fire, but variously believed they had seen the IRA members shot in the back, with their hands up, or after falling to the ground. The final contributor was the lawyer recruited by Bolton, who suggested that a judicial inquiry was necessary to resolve the conflicts.
The morning after the broadcast, several tabloid newspapers attacked the documentary, accusing it of sensationalism and "trial by television". In the following days, they mounted a campaign against Carmen Proetta, one of the documentary's main witnesses, accusing her of being a former prostitute and of being anti-British; Proetta later successfully sued several newspapers for libel. Other newspapers accused "Death on the Rock" of misrepresenting the eyewitnesses' statements and criticised the IBA for allowing the documentary to be broadcast. The eyewitnesses interviewed for "Death on the Rock" gave evidence at the inquest into the shootings; most repeated the statements they had given the programme, but one witness—who had told the programme he had seen a soldier stand over one of the IRA members and fire at the man while he was on the ground—retracted his previous statement. As a result of the retraction, Thames commissioned an independent inquiry into the making of "Death on the Rock"—the first time an inquiry had been commissioned into the making of an individual documentary. The Windlesham–Rampton report found that the programme's tendency was to present evidence that the IRA members had been unlawfully killed, but that it sought to raise questions rather than to reach a conclusion. The authors made several criticisms of the documentary, but overall found it a "trenchant" work of journalism, made in "good faith and without ulterior motives". Thames lost its franchise and the IBA was abolished as a result of the Broadcasting Act 1990—decisions which several involved parties believed were influenced by the government's anger at "Death on the Rock".InQuest Gamer
InQuest Gamer was a monthly magazine for game reviews and news that was published from 1995 to 2007. Originally, the magazine was named InQuest and focused solely on collectible card games (CCGs); InQuest, along with its competitor Scrye, were the two major CCG magazines. Later, the magazine changed its focus to cover a wider range of games, including role-playing games, computer and video games, collectible miniature games, board games, and others. The magazine was published by Wizard Entertainment (not to be confused with Wizards of the Coast, which produced its own CCG magazine, The Duelist).Inquest of Pilot Pirx
Inquest of Pilot Pirx (Polish: Test pilota Pirxa, Russian: Дознание пилота Пиркса, romanized: Doznaniye pilota Pirksa, Estonian: Navigaator Pirx) is a joint Polish-Soviet 1979 film directed by Marek Piestrak; it is based on the story "The Inquest" by Stanisław Lem from his 1968 short story collection Opowieści o pilocie Pirxie (Tales of Pirx the Pilot; the story was translated into English in the second part, More Tales of Pirx the Pilot). It was adapted for film by Vladimir Valutsky. It is a joint production by Zespoly Filmowe, and Tallinnfilm.Inquests in England and Wales
Inquests in England and Wales are held into sudden and unexplained deaths and also into the circumstances of discovery of a certain class of valuable artefacts known as "treasure trove". In England and Wales, inquests are the responsibility of a coroner, who operates under the jurisdiction of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton
Alice Lynne "Lindy" Chamberlain-Creighton (née Murchison; born 4 March 1948) is a New Zealand-born woman who was wrongfully convicted in one of Australia's most publicised murder trials. Accused of killing her nine-week-old daughter, Azaria, while camping at Uluru (then usually known as Ayers Rock) in 1980, she maintained that she saw a dingo leave the tent where Azaria was sleeping. The prosecution case was circumstantial and depended on forensic evidence.
Chamberlain was convicted on 29 October 1982, and her appeals to the Federal Court of Australia, and High Court of Australia, were dismissed. On 7 February 1986, after the discovery of new evidence, Chamberlain was released from prison on remission. She and her husband Michael Chamberlain, co-accused, were officially pardoned in 1987, and their convictions were quashed by the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory in 1988. In 1992, the Australian government paid Chamberlain $1.3 million in compensation. In 2012, a fourth coronial inquest found that Azaria died "as a result of being attacked and taken by a dingo."Mark Speight
Mark Warwick Fordham Speight (6 August 1965 – 7 April 2008) was an English television presenter and host of children's art programme SMart. Speight grew up in Tettenhall, Wolverhampton, and left school at 16 to become a cartoonist. He took a degree in commercial and graphic art and, while working in television set construction, heard of auditions for a new children's art programme. Speight was successful in his audition and became one of the first presenters of SMart, working on it for 14 years.
Speight was also a presenter on See It Saw It, where he met his future fiancée, actress and model Natasha Collins. He took part in live events, such as Rolf on Art and his own Speight of the Art workshops for children. He was involved in charity work; he became the president of the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign's Young Pavement Artists Competition, and was a spokesperson for ChildLine.
In January 2008, Speight found Collins's body in the bath of their shared London flat. He was arrested on suspicion of her murder, but not charged with any offence. An inquest later determined that Collins had died of a drug overdose and severe burns from hot water. In April that year, Speight was reported missing and was later discovered to have taken his own life by hanging himself near Paddington station. Two suicide notes were discovered, describing how he could no longer live his life without Collins.Michael Barrymore
Michael Ciaran Parker (born 4 May 1952), better known by his stage name Michael Barrymore, is an English comedian and television presenter of game shows and light entertainment programmes on British television in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. These included Strike It Lucky, My Kind of People, My Kind of Music and Kids Say the Funniest Things. In 1993 he headlined the Royal Variety Performance.
At his peak Barrymore was considered one of the most popular performers in the UK. He was voted the UK's favourite television star several times, becoming one of the highest-paid stars on television. He presented the popular game-show Strike It Lucky as well as his own variety show Barrymore. He starred in a comedy drama called Bob Martin (2000–01), in which he played the title role of a failing television game-show host. Since his peak of popularity in the mid-1990s, Barrymore has appeared on Celebrity Big Brother and other shows including The Friday Night Project, Graham Norton's Bigger Picture, This Morning, The Sharon Osbourne Show and The Saturday Night Show.Nicholas Campbell
Nicholas Campbell (born 24 March 1952) is a Canadian actor and filmmaker, who won three Gemini Awards for acting. He is known for such films as Naked Lunch, Prozac Nation, New Waterford Girl and the television series Da Vinci's Inquest.Operation Flavius
Operation Flavius was a military operation in which three members of a Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) cell were shot dead by undercover members of the British Special Air Service (SAS) in Gibraltar on 6 March 1988. The three—Seán Savage, Daniel McCann, and Mairéad Farrell (members of Provisional IRA Belfast Brigade ) —were believed to be mounting a car bomb attack on British military personnel in Gibraltar. Plain-clothed SAS soldiers approached them in the forecourt of a petrol station, then opened fire, killing them. All three were found to be unarmed, and no bomb was discovered in Savage's car, leading to accusations that the British government had conspired to murder them. An inquest in Gibraltar ruled that the SAS had acted lawfully, while the European Court of Human Rights held that, although there had been no conspiracy, the planning and control of the operation was so flawed as to make the use of lethal force almost inevitable. The deaths were the first in a chain of violent events in a fourteen-day period. On 16 March, the funeral of the three IRA members was attacked by a loyalist wielding pistols and grenades, leaving three mourners dead. Then, at the funeral of one of the mourners, the IRA shot two undercover British soldiers who had driven into the procession.
From late 1987, the British authorities were aware that the IRA was planning to detonate a bomb at the changing of the guard ceremony outside the governor's residence in the British Dependent Territory of Gibraltar. When Savage, McCann and Farrell travelled to Spain in preparation for the attack, they were tracked at the request of the British government. On the day of the shootings, Savage was seen parking a white Renault in the car park used as the assembly area for the parade; McCann and Farrell were seen crossing the border shortly afterwards.
After a military bomb disposal officer reported that Savage's car should be treated as a suspected bomb, the police handed over control of the operation to the SAS. As soldiers were moving into position to intercept the trio, Savage split from McCann and Farrell and began running south. Two soldiers pursued Savage while two approached McCann and Farrell; as they did so, the pair were said to make threatening movements, as a result of which the soldiers opened fire, shooting them multiple times. As soldiers caught up with Savage, he was alleged to have turned around to face them while reaching into his jacket; he was also shot multiple times. All three were subsequently found to be unarmed, and Savage's car was found to contain no explosives; enquiries resulting from keys found on Farrell led authorities to a second car, containing a large quantity of explosives, in a car park in Spain. Almost two months after the shootings, the documentary "Death on the Rock" was broadcast on British television. Using reconstructions and eyewitness accounts, it presented the possibility that the three IRA members had been unlawfully killed. The documentary proved extremely controversial; several British newspapers described it as "trial by television".The inquest into the deaths began in September 1988. It heard from British and Gibraltar authorities that the IRA team had been tracked to Málaga Airport, where they were lost by the Spanish police, and that the three did not re-emerge until Savage was sighted parking his car in Gibraltar. The soldiers each testified that they had opened fire in the belief that the suspected bombers were reaching for weapons or a remote detonator. Among the civilians who gave evidence were the eyewitnesses discovered by "Death on the Rock", who gave accounts of seeing the three shot without warning, with their hands up, or while they were on the ground. Kenneth Asquez, who told the documentary that he had seen a soldier fire at Savage repeatedly while the latter was on the ground, retracted his statement at the inquest, claiming that he had been pressured into giving it. On 30 September, the inquest jury returned a verdict of "lawful killing". Dissatisfied, the families took the case to the European Court of Human Rights. Delivering its judgement in 1995, the court found that the operation had been in violation of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights as the authorities' failure to arrest the suspects at the border, combined with the information given to the soldiers, rendered the use of lethal force almost inevitable. The decision is cited as a landmark case in the use of force by the state.Peaches Geldof
Peaches Honeyblossom Geldof-Cohen (13 March 1989 – 6 or 7 April 2014) was an English columnist, television personality, and model. She was the second daughter of musician Bob Geldof and television presenter Paula Yates.
Born and raised in London, Geldof was educated at Queen's College after her parents' divorce in 1996, and later moved to New York City, where she worked as a writer for the UK edition of Elle Girl magazine. She also worked in television, producing and developing her own TV programmes which were broadcast in the United Kingdom in 2006. In the later part of her life, Geldof worked primarily in modelling and television, and gave birth to sons in 2012 and 2013.
Geldof was found dead at her home on 7 April 2014. The inquest found that she died of a heroin overdose.Unlawful killing
In English law, unlawful killing is a verdict that can be returned by an inquest in England and Wales when someone has been killed by one or several unknown persons. The verdict means that the killing was done without lawful excuse and in breach of criminal law. This includes murder, manslaughter, infanticide and causing death by dangerous driving. A verdict of unlawful killing generally leads to a police investigation, with the aim of gathering sufficient evidence to identify, charge and prosecute those responsible.
The inquest does not normally name any individual person as responsible. The standard of proof is that the unlawful killing must be beyond reasonable doubt. If this standard is not met, a verdict of accidental death or death by misadventure on the balance of probabilities may be returned.