Belfast Telegraph

Second inquest into boy's death may be delayed

A new inquest for a boy whose death has allegedly been linked to a combined measles and rubella vaccination could be delayed for five months, a court has heard.

The second probe into the death of Christopher Coulter (15), from Hillsborough, Co Down, has been ordered by Northern Ireland Attorney General John Larkin.

It was due to start this month but late legal issues prevented it proceeding as scheduled.

At a preliminary hearing in Belfast, coroner Suzanne Anderson said court availability issues may result in the start date now being put back to next April.

Christopher was found dead in bed in December 1994 – 10 days after he received the MR jab. He died from asphyxia brought on by a seizure. His family claim the vaccine played a part in his death.

At the original inquest in 1995, the MR vaccine was ruled out as a potential cause.

The MR vaccination was subsequently replaced by the combined MMR jab, which adds immunisation against mumps.

A range of experts are set to be called by the family and the Public Health Agency at the inquest.

One specialist witness is Massachusetts-based Dr Marcel Kinsbourne, who previously reviewed the case and claimed that, on the balance of probabilities, the vaccine did play a role.

Dr Kinsbourne had been due to appear at the inquest this month but later said other commitments would mean he could only have given evidence via video-link.

Ms Anderson said it would be preferable if the expert could attend in person when the probe does eventually get under way.

Ms Anderson said only one court within the Coroner's Court at Old Town Hall would be suitable for video-link. She said availability in that court – No. 1 – was very limited early next year.

"We may even be looking at April," she said.

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