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What the law says

Section 37 Of the Coroner’s Act states

  1. The Coroner’s court is not bound by the rules of evidence, but may inform itself in any way it considers appropriate.
  2. The Coroner’s Court may require a person to produce a document to the court before the start of an inquest.
  3. The Coroner’s Court may inspect anything produced at an inquest, copy it, or keep it for a reasonable period.
  4. The Coroner’s Court may do any of the following-
    • (a) order a person to attend an inquest, until excused by the court-
      • (i) to give evidence as a witness; or
      • (ii) produce something;
    • (b) order a person called as a witness at an inquest-
      • (i) to take an oath; or
      • (ii) to answer a question.
  5. In addition to the ways in which something may be served under the Acts Interpretation Act 1954, section 39, the Coroner’s Court may authorise service of an order in another way.
  6. A person must comply with an order of the Coroner’s Court, unless the person has a reasonable excuse.

Section 39 States

  1. This section applies if a witness refuses to give oral evidence at an inquest because the evidence would tend to incriminate the person.
  2. The coroner may require the witness to give evidence that would tend to incriminate the witness if the coroner is satisfied that it is in the public interest for the witness to do so.
  3. The evidence is not admissible against the witness in any other proceeding, other than a proceeding for perjury.
  4. Derivative evidence is not admissible against the witness in a criminal proceeding.
  5. In this section derivative evidence means any information, document or other evidence obtained as a direct or indirect result of evidence given by the witness.

Proceeding for perjury means a criminal proceeding in which the false or misleading nature of the evidence is in question.

What the police must prove

In order for the Police to prove their case at Court, they must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt.

  1. The accused failed to attend the inquest.
  2. The accused refused to give oral evidence at the inquest because it might incriminate him or her.

It will be necessary for the Police in every offence to prove that the accused was the person who committed the offence. Click here to learn more about identification evidence.

Maximum penalty

The Maximum penalty for the offence of Evidence in Coroner’s Court is 40 penalty units

Which court will hear the matter

This matter is summary which means it is dealt with in the Magistrates Court.

Possible defences

Possible defences to this offence include but are not limited to

  1. The accused was not served properly or at all with the summons to attend an inquest.
  2. The accused did not unreasonably refuse to give evidence or produce documents.
  3. The coroner did not properly require an accused to give incriminating evidence in the public interest.

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