A Case for the Coroner

A ground-breaking 6-part series which takes a behind-the-scenes look at the office of the New South Wales State Coroner. The cameras capture compelling real-life courtroom dramas covering five inquests conducted by Coroner John Abernethy and his deputy, as well as the forensic nightmare created by the Bali bombings in October 2002. With extraordinary access to the at times gruesome operations of the Coroner's team of pathologists and police officers, the series reveals both the complexity and high emotion of investigations into sudden and/or violent deaths. The Coroner himself presents as a sometimes gruff but highly dedicated and likeable law officer who shows great compassion for the people who must put their faith in his deliberations.

Ep 1 - Amber Stewart (Part 1) In March 2000, Amber Stewart died of a heroin overdose at the age of 14, one of Australia's youngest heroin deaths. Eighteen months later, Coroner John Abernethy is holding a week-long inquest in the New England town of Armidale. The Coroner hears evidence from Amber's friends and relatives about the difficulties she faced because of her addiction, and how she came to die suddenly after appearing to be getting her life together.

Ep 2 - Amber Stewart (Part 2) It's Day Three of the inquest and Coroner John Abernethy is hearing evidence from the last man to see her alive, flatmate Mark Ormond, who says he 'freaked out' when he found her dead and failed to call an ambulance until hours later. There's fresh evidence about how Amber left home because of a violent incident with her stepfather, and how DOCS decided she could not return home even though her mother believes she should have been ordered to. The Coroner hands down his finding, which offers Amber's mother Gwen some closure over her loss.

Ep 3 - Cale Pridmore/Matt Wendt The decomposed body of a young man lies unidentified in the coolroom of the Glebe Morgue. A toddler is found dead on the bathroom floor of his family home. Both cases call for the Coroner to provide answers. Each year the Coroner investigates over 130 cases involving children, where the cause of death is unknown. Cale Pridmore's body was found on the bathroom floor near a power cord, but the autopsy shows no sign of electrocution. Head injury, drowning and asphyxia are all ruled out...so what killed Cale? Meanwhile, the unknown male has been identified by a tattoo on his arm. Matthew Wendt was a young successful IT expert, much loved by family and friends. So how did he meet his lonely end behind a dumpster in an industrial wasteland?

Ep 4 - Robert Wintle A detailed look at the operation of the Glebe Morgue in Sydney and the work of the Coroner's team of pathologists as they conduct an autopsy on Robert Wintle. Mr Wintle was found dead in a park in the South Coast fishing town of Bermagui. The previous day he had been evicted from his Housing Commission flat. The coroner must decide whether to hold an inquest when the autopsy reveals Mr Wintle's heart attack might have occurred during the eviction.

Ep 5 - Noreen Waldren 78-year-old Noreen Waldron's death in February 2000 would not normally have looked suspicious. But in a five week period, fifteen other people have died at the same nursing home. Mrs Waldron's case has the Coroner and his investigators puzzled. She was found with toxic levels of quinine in her blood. Could she have taken her own life, or been murdered? As the investigation unfolds, it is clear forensic tests can't always provide the answers.

Ep 6 - Bali Bombings On October 12 2002, terrorist bombs rip through the Sari nightclub in Bali leaving over 200 people dead. As the tragedy hits home in Australia, it's clear that the task of identifying the victims is fraught with problems. NSW State Coroner John Abernethy prepares for a crisis, while his team gears up for a potential influx of unidentified bodies. For the relatives of the dead, the process of victim identification seems like a sea of red tape, the instrument of an uncaring bureaucracy. The Coroner maintains that even loved ones can get it wrong, and that without forensic checks mistakes are made all too often.

This program is released for non theatrical use within educational, government and business organisations. Additional payments under a Screenrights licence are not required. Please contact us for Exhibition or Streaming Licences.

Production Year: 
2003
Duration: 
6 x 27 mins
Series Episode
Standard $275
Schools $198
Home $198

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