Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Justice for dead drunks

At 1.50 on Tuesday afternoon in a room at New Bridge House, the drab offices in Chelmsford that double as coroner’s court, a weary line was drawn under the sad lives of Susan Evans and James Grimwade.
The inquest heard that police broke down the door of their home in Pennine Road, Chelmsford and found their bodies in the ‘unhygienic’ house. They had a history of heavy drinking and the coroner decided they died as result of chronic alcohol abuse.
But hold on a minute.
Two people found dead in the same house at the same time. How often does that happen? At the time of the deaths back in February we asked the police and the social care authorities what they planned to do about investigating the deaths.
We speculated on what might have happened. Suicide pact? Poisoning, either deliberate or accidental? Adulterated drink or drugs? Overcome by fumes from a faulty boiler? Perhaps even murder?
But no investigation was ever forthcoming. The ‘nothing going on here’ signs went up almost from the start and the despite our urgings no-one wanted to do anything.
We had the feeling from the outset that quite simply no-one was interested. But what if two people in their forties had been found dead in a house in, say, Beaulieu Park or Little Baddow? Would the authorities have taken a different view?
We feel that Susan and James have been badly let down, probably in life as well as death, and thrown onto an administrative scrapheap simply because of where and how they lived
We find it highly unlikely that two people would die at exactly the same time in the same place, addled by drink or not. At the very least they deserve a proper multi-agency investigation.
A ten minute hearing in front of a coroner with no witnesses called and no reports ordered is not good enough. Not for Susan and James. Not for anyone.
Taken from this week's Essex Chronicle editorial


  1. Well said Alan. I hope you keep plugging away at this and that you get a breakthrough eventually. It this sort of story - the ones no-one else will follow-up - that the local press is there for.

  2. Anonymous7:20 PM

    Could you possibly paste in a hyperlink to your editorial and to the story your paper carried as your many blogwatchers around the universe would like to find out more about the sad duo whom Caroline Beastley-Murray deemed unworthy of a real inquest because they lived in the wrong postcode

  3. Don't give up on this one! Great to see you back with some splendid posts.

  4. Anonymous6:40 PM

    Excellent journalism - sadly lacking from most of your better resourced regional cousins. Keep up the good work. Chris Rushton, Head of Journalism, University of Sunderland.

  5. Anonymous8:52 PM

    Very well said.

    The alcohol dependant in our society need so much more support, in this sad case and particularly in life where they are so often neglected until it is too late