Milton Keynes coroner withholds inquest file of Leah Croucher murder suspect Neil Maxwell

Leah Croucher.
Credit: Family photo
Leah Croucher's body was found in a house in Milton Keynes. Credit: Family photo

A coroner has refused to release inquest records of the prime suspect in the murder of teenager Leah Croucher, saying that police believe the release may "seriously jeopardise" the investigation.

Neil Maxwell, a sex offender who killed himself while on the run from police, died in April 2019 - two months after Leah, 19, vanished - and was named the prime suspect by Thames Valley Police.

The senior coroner for Milton Keynes had been due to release the document on Tuesday, but said police asked him not to do so for a further "short period of time".

It comes after ITV and BBC made an application for the document to be disclosed.

Last month, detectives searching for Leah found human remains at a home in Loxbeare Drive, Furzton, Milton Keynes.

Neil Maxwell has been named a prime suspect in the murder investigation of Leah Croucher. Credit: Thames Valley Police

Maxwell was the only person with keys to the address at the time of Leah's disappearance, Thames Valley Police said.

A murder inquiry was opened after Leah's rucksack and other belongings were found.

Senior coroner Tom Osborne said: "I had previously indicated that I would today, November 1, disclose the record of inquest relating to Neil Maxwell, who died on 20 April, 2019 and whose inquest was concluded on 9 October, 2019.

"I received a request from Det Ch Supt Ian Hunter, who is overseeing the investigation into the death of Leah Croucher, to withhold disclosure of the record of inquest for a further short period of time as it contains information that is sensitive to their continuing investigation, and by releasing that information into the public domain at this stage may seriously jeopardise the investigation.

"The presumption in favour of open and transparent justice would normally dictate that I disclose the record of inquest.

"However, I have every reason to believe that disclosure of the document at this stage may seriously compromise and indeed jeopardise the ongoing investigation into the death of Leah Croucher, and for that reason the balance is in favour of not disclosing the document, for the time being, although it is a matter that will be kept under constant review and it will be released at the earliest opportunity.

"The content of the document will not change and the risks of compromise to the continuing investigation outweigh the need for disclosure."

Formal identification of the body has confirmed that it is Leah Croucher. Credit: PA

Thames Valley Police published a public wanted appeal to find Maxwell on 4 April, 2019, but he was found dead two weeks later on 20 April having taken his own life.

Eighteen attempts were made to arrest Maxwell while he was wanted, following an alleged sexual assault in 2018.

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