A senior coroner has told an inquest that she was "flabbergasted" after a senior police officer admitted failing to read a court letter relating to the death of a Co Down man last year.
Coroner Joanne Donnelly hit out after Sgt Shane McNally told the court he had not read the letter posted to him by her earlier this month concerning the death of Bangor man David Dynes in November last year.
During the hearing it emerged that Sgt McNally was contacted by the coroner on July 5 to ensure that police would be in a position to answer questions relating to the dead man's mobile phone records at yesterday's inquest.
Mr Dynes (58) died after falling down stairs and hitting his head at his Carlton Park home in the town on November 24 last year.
The civil servant's body was found by Sgt McNally who smashed his way into the dead man's home when police were called there by his former partner Roberta Simpson.
It emerged during the hearing that Mr Dynes phoned his former partner in the early hours of November 24 after suffering the head injury at his home.
Although at the scene when Mr Dynes's body was found, Sgt McNally was not the investigating officer.
When put in the stand yesterday, Mr McNally admitted having no knowledge of the dead man's mobile phone records.
After questioning in court by Ms Donnelly, the policeman admitted receiving a letter from her on July 5 but said he had not read it - other than to establish when the inquest into Mr Dynes's death would be held.
The PSNI officer confirmed he was not the investigating officer and said he "thought" he had been written to by the coroner because he had found Mr Dynes's body.
In her summing up, the coroner said she was "flabbergasted" that "Sergeant McNally did not read the letter sent to him on July 5".
Ms Donnelly added that she intends to ensure that "in future, correspondence from the coroner is not treated in such an indifferent and off-handed manner".
The coroner said that had it not been for the testimony of the dead man's brother, Trevor Dynes, who confirmed no further calls were made on the night he died, she would have been forced to adjourn yesterday's hearing.
During the inquest it emerged that when police entered Mr Dynes' house they found him lying on a bed in an upstairs room covered in blood.
It emerged that he had earlier called his former partner Roberta Simpson twice at around around 1.30am leaving a voice mail message saying he had cut his head and couldn't get help.
The court heard that Ms Simpson didn't receive the message until 7.30am when she made efforts to contact Mr Dynes and get into his house before calling police.
It transpired that Mr Dynes had been taking prescription drugs and had consumed alcohol on the night he died.
The cause of Mr Dynes's death was given as haemorrhage caused by lacerations of the scalp and forehead.
A spokesman for the PSNI said: "It is not PSNI policy to comment on individual officers. Police carried out a full and thorough investigation into the death of David Dynes. This death is not being treated as suspicious."