30 Apr 2013

Coroner should not have ambushed us - witness

8:54 pm on 30 April 2013

One of the two women found by a coroner to have contributed to the death of an Auckland woman by not calling the police, says he should not have been able to ambush them as he did.

Julia Woodhouse says Coroner Peter Ryan should have told her and Bobbie Carroll to expect questions at the inquest to allow them to prepare and to have legal representation.

Ms Woodhouse said Mr Ryan knew a month before the inquest from a police report what their thoughts were on how 25-year-old Iraena Asher died after disappearing at Piha Beach in 2004, and should have in all fairness alerted them so they could defend themselves.

Chief High Court judge Helen Winkelmann ruled on Monday that the finding by Mr Ryan was unreasonable, as there was no proper evidence.

The judge said the finding breached the Coroner's Act and natural justice, because the family were given no warning that their actions would be criticised by Mr Ryan, nor were they given a chance to respond to his comments.

The Chief Coroner's Office is not being drawn on the judicial review. It says judges do not comment on other judges' decisions.