1. ITV Report

Family wait two years for son's inquest

A couple from Teesside who have had to wait more than two years for an inquest into the death of their son say the delay is devastating.

Jim Smith Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Jim Smith, 30, from Middlesbrough had been working as a rigger in Thailand when he died in 2010. His family say he fell from a hotel roof, but an inquest into his death has still not been held.

His father John said "It's just devastated us. We just want it finished so we can grieve in our own way. When you wait for something like that, it just goes on and on."

The family say that Thai authorities dealt with Jim's death quickly, but claim the delays have been caused on Teesside.

Middlesbrough's coroner Michael Sheffield is currently subject to an investigation into the amount of time it takes to complete inquests. The scrutiny panel at Middlesbrough council heard that, at any one time, up to 300 families are waiting for inquests. Its report is now being finalised.

Last month the Chief Coroner announced that new rules will eventually come into place which could see action taken against coroners who take longer than a year to complete inquests.

"If the Chief Coroner decides that a year is long enough for an inquest and applies that system across the whole country then it's up to the Teesside office to obide by that. If that's the national target they should be meeting it and that's what local people deserve."

– Redcar MP Ian Swales

The Smith family still don't know when their son's inquest will be heard, but they want it completed soon.

It's something that you need to have over and done with as quickly as possible really. No family will be looking forward to attending an inquest about their loved one. But to keep it dragging on and on is just totally unfair.

– Jim's mother Carol

There was no-one available to comment from Mr Sheffield's office today but it said no direct complaints from the Smith family have been received.