18 Jun 2002

Inquiry finds diplomat in Solomons died in a freak accident

5:09 pm on 18 June 2002

The acting chief magistrate in Solomon Islands has found that the New Zealand diplomat, Bridget Nichols, died as the result of a freak accident.

Ms Nichols, who was New Zealand's Deputy High Commissioner in Honiara, died in March after suffering a stab wound at her home there. .

After a two month long inquiry, police four weeks ago announced her death was not suspicious.

The magistrate David Chetwynd, who has just finished presiding over a formal Death and Fire Inquiry, says he agrees with that finding.

He explained what he believes happened to Ms Nichols.

"She was carrying several items and fell, and unfortunately , in the fall, managed to stab herself with the knife that she was carrying. It was a freek accident. It sounds improbable but when you examine the scene and the evidence as given by the forensic scientists, it is probably the only logical conclusion you can come to."

David Chetwynd.

The finding has been welcomed by New Zealand's Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Neil Walter.

He says while this finding does not lessen the impact of Bridget's death, it at least provides the comfort of knowing that an attack or assault on her has been ruled out.