Belfast Telegraph

Senior coroner to retire next year

Northern Ireland's senior coroner John Leckey is retiring next year.

He has been investigating deaths since 1984, including Troubles cases dating back decades.

But Mr Leckey, 66, has also expressed frustration over delays surrounding security force killings in disputed circumstances; warning the Government it could be in breach of international law if it does not provide adequate resources to allow cases to proceed in a timely manner.

A spokeswoman for the coroner's service said: "Mr John Leckey, the senior coroner, plans to retire on 31 October 2015."

The coroner, who qualified as a solicitor in 1974, has previously been asked what attracted him to the post.

He said: "I cannot put it better than one of my colleagues in England who was interviewed for the Daily Telegraph and said 'how people die is interesting' - and that is true, it is very interesting."

Since his student days he had an interest in medicine and forensic medicine, he said during an online interview on a government website.

Mr Leckey has said the job had changed considerably since he applied to become deputy coroner for Greater Belfast in 1984 and families no longer accept without reservation what the medical profession tells them.

"Family expectations are much higher than they were 10 or 15 years ago and people now are generally much more inclined to challenge judicial decisions."

He said the internet also gave people the knowledge to challenge explanations given by the medical profession.

The senior coroner has said dealing with the deaths of children was emotionally very difficult.

He has been holding inquests this year into a series of fatalities involving an unregulated ecstasy-like drug known as known variously as 4-4, speckled cherries and said manslaughter charges should be brought against suppliers. He compared the deaths to having a serial killer on the loose.

In 2009 Mr Leckey stepped down from an inquest into the killing of an unarmed IRA man shot dead by police in disputed circumstances, Pearse Jordan.

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