Justice For Jeremiah - Inquest

British Inquest

Coroner's Court transcript

A transcript was printed by the Coroner's Court of the British Inquest on Jeremiah's case. The document below is a summary of some of the proceedings with extracts.

Inquisition

An Inquisition taken for our Sovereign Lady the Queen at the Coroner's Court, Hornsey, in the Northern district of Greater London.

On the Eighth day of April 2003 and by adjournment on the Sixth day of November 2003

Before and by: Dr William F.G. Dolman
One of her Majesty's Coroners for the said Northern district of Greater London
Touching he death of: Jeremiah Joseph Duggan
Injury of Disease causing death:
1a. Head injuries.
Time,place and circumstances at or in which injury was sustained:
Conclusion of the Coroner as to the death:
Jeremiah Joseph Duggan received fatal injuries when he ran into the road in Wiesbaden and was hit by two private motor cars. He had earlier been in a state of terror.
Signature:
Dr William F.G. Dolman JPL1B

Opening Statement.

The Coroner stated that he had no power to compel witnesses from abroad to attend the Inquest, nor resource or powers to carry out investigations abroad. The Coroner's enquiry is limited to the following four questions: "who the deceased was and, how, when and where the deceased came by his death" and nothing more.

The interpreter was sworn in.
Translation of the German Police Accident Report was admitted as a piece of documentary evidence.

Legal Submission by Mr. Leslie Thomas acting on behalf of Christian Khan Solicitors on behalf of the family: He spoke as follows:
"Sir, it is my application that this inquest should be adjourned pending further investigations. Because there hasn't yet been a proper investigation by the German Authorities into the death of Jeremiah Duggan. There is a number of basic fundamental forensic flaws in the German investigations such as the failure to take proper witness statements from key witnesses, key witnesses including the persons Jeremiah was in the company of or even the immediate 24 hours before he died. Those witnesses would be key. Secondly key witness statements from the persons involved in the incident, the drivers, the people at the garage, there are no key witness statement in relation to those.

Basic forensic evidence hasn't been retained and the family does not know what has happened to Jeremiah's clothing and his shoes. These may well be relevant to where he was in the immediate moments before his death and there is a suggestion that he may have been running on the motor way, he may have tried to cross the road. These are key things.

Thirdly, the German accident report contains a number of unexplained matters in it. My submission is that it places you in an impossible situation to try and continue with an inquest when there are so many gaps in the potential evidence."

The Coroner then stated that he would retire for a few minutes to review the request.
On his return he stated that Mr Thomas had "already pointed out the difficulties the coroner has in obtaining information on a voluntary basis from foreign countries or be it those in the European community. Dr Dolman stated that nothing had come to him and nothing had come to Christian Khan although enquires were made by the Metropolitan Police to seek further information. Therefore Dr Dolman suggested that the inquest continue and further evidence should be heard while matters are relatively fresh in the witnesses mind.

The Coroner.
I think the best way to approach the matter is to hear the evidence available to the court now whilst matters are relatively fresh in the witnesses minds and then I must decide if I need to obtain further evidence. List of witnesses called:
Mrs Erica duggan, mother of the deceased.
M. - girlfriend of the deceased.
Detective Inspector Jane Cowell of Colindale Police Stateion
Robin Hawthorne Institute of Traffic Accident Investigator.

Dr Dolman stated that "We already know and I say this as well that the German investigations are concluded. We already know that the German enquires are finished and no further enquires are to be made, of course they live under a totally different legal system from ours but that seems to be something that I have no power over.

Dr. Dolman then questioned Erica Duggan. It was stated that Jeremiah had never suffered from any psychiatric illness or made any attempts to kill himself.
Mrs Duggan stated that Jeremiah told her that "there were not enough hours in the day to do all the things he wanted to do."

Here follows an Extract of the summing up at the end of the Inquest based on the Transcript of the hearings.

Summary touching the death of Jeremiah Joseph Duggan: By Dr Dolman:

"Let me review the evidence we have heard touching the death of Jeremiah Joseph Duggan."

"At the outset when the papers reached the court by courtesy of the Republic of Germany's prosecuting authorities, it seemed that what this court was concerned with was simply a road traffic incident. However, from the very outset I could not accept the investigators bald conclusion that Jeremiah Duggan intended to take his own life.

The legal constraints in our system are such that suicide cannot be presumed and can't be assumed for such a verdict as Mr Thomas has helpfully correctly said. There has to be cogent evidence to a criminal standard of proof of the act and of the intention before such a verdict can even be considered. We don't have any such evidence.

Rule 36 of the Coroner's Rules 1984 demands that the coroner ascertains the answers to four separate but related questions. Who the deceased was, how, when and where the deceased came by his death and the coroner sets out the bounds for the inquiry.

I felt it necessary to broaden the inquiry beyond what appeared to be a simple road traffic incident in Weisbaden. I think wisely as it turned out as the evidence led us to touch on murky and secretive structures of political organisations in Europe."

Dr Dolman outlined the information presented by Erica Duggan and Jeremiah's girlfriend to the affect that Jeremiah had never expressed any thoughts of suicide or self-harm. The Coroner further stated: quote "so at the outset it is clear that in the absence of other compelling evidence and there was none that the prospect of the suicide verdict was totally impossible and incorrect."
Dr Doman continued: " What about Jeremiah? He was living in Paris and like many young men he developed an interest in politics. In his mother's words, was thinking about becoming more politically active. She learnt that he was going to attend a conference in Weisbaden and then to Berlin to protest about the American involvement in the war in Iraq.

We learnt that Jeremiah had been and I use the word advisedly "sucked into" a political organisation, an extreme political organisation. It is quite clear from what we have heard that he was unaware of the nature of the organisation but we learnt that it was an anti-American group and we learnt more today in evidence about the nature of this organisation. Evidence that was very disquieting and worrying."

Dr Doman described how Detective Inspector Jane Cowell from Barnet Metropolitan Police underlined the sinister nature of this organisation. "As we have heard from her own researches Mrs Duggan's researches which first gave evidence she learnt that the organization was dangerous, in her words destructive, political cult with intimidation involved. I quote from her evidence directly.

It was anti-Semitic and from the outset it was clear that the organisation was not aware that Jeremiah Duggan was Jewish. So from the evidence we learn that Jeremiah Duggan had been hurled into some form of dangerous political cult. A world of protest, a world of subversion perhaps. More on that we don't know from the evidence."

The Coroner then turned to the evidence from Jeremiah's girlfriend to help a coherent and chronological picture. It was learnt from the girlfriend that she had known Jeremiah since February 2002. Jeremiah confided in her and it was clearly a close relationship. The girlfriend spoke about another friend in Paris called Benoit, whom Jeremiah placed a lot of trust. She had last seen Jeremiah on Friday 21st March and accompanied him to the offices of the organisation Nouvelle Solidarity. On that day he wasn't very relaxed. No one was talking to them she said. She learnt that he was going to Germany and wanted to know where he was going, understandably clearly close friends.

The friend who was earlier named as Benoit Chalifoux gave her three different addresses and three phone numbers. So Jeremiah left. It was described by Jeremiah's girlfriend how Jeremiah phoned her on the night he arrived and at other times telling her that he was well and that he was missing her a lot. She received two calls saying he was in Wiesbaden and would be back the following Sunday.
To quote directly: " We heard about the fact that he said he would be away for her birthday. She asked if he could come back sooner and he called back one and a half hours later saying that he was sorry to have forgotten her birthday. She said and these are her words, " I learnt that something serious was happening. It is very important that I should stay he said. He was very solemn."

Then on Thursday 27th March at 4.20 a.m. in the morning, he phoned her at home: she was at home with her family. Jeremiah was saying, "I am under too much pressure." His voice was very quiet. She said I could feel he was frightened and he went on with his curious statement, "they do experiments on human being with computers and magnetic zones." ( I may not have that down as perfectly correct) He was speaking in short sentences; it was unusual said Jeremiah's girlfriend. He was evasive when asked where he was. That was the last contact she had with him.

At 7.40 his friend Sebastien phoned to ask if she had news of Jeremiah. She learnt that he had left the house running because he had triggered an alarm. Sebastian said he had seen him running and tried to follow him but lost him.

After that 4.20 a.m. phone call in the morning there was another far more worrying phone call to his mother. That has been dealt with in detail. He phoned and was cut off and phoned again. We have had detailed evidence about those phone calls."

Erica Duggan described fully the phone calls she received thirty five minutes before Jeremiah was killed.

The Coroner continued as follows:
"He said and I quote directly, "Mum, I am in big trouble. You know this Nouvelle Solidarite," he went on, "I can't do this I want out." He was cut off. He rang again. I'm frightened, I want to see you now." That was the evidence we heard directly from Mrs Duggan about that conversation. He said he was in Wiesbaden and the phone was cut.

In answer to questions Mrs Duggan said that she had learnt that the organisation had found out that Jeremiah was Jewish. We also learnt that his passport was in the possession of the Manager of the Schiller Institute at Weisbaden. We have heard about the conflicts. We have heard a claim that he had panic attacks totally refuted and in evidence today Mrs Duggan who has absolutely no reason to dissemble at all gives an account of phone calls that she made to the Manager. Whereas the Manager said she had made phone calls to England. The accounts are totally at variance and they are totally at variance with a report given in a German investigator's prosecution's report.

I am afraid I have no power to compel such witnesses to attend my court from Germany. These facts alone leave unanswered questions."

After this Dr Dolman turned to the actual events of the road traffic incident.
Earlier in the Inquest Dr Dolman had questioned the traffic accident specialist Mr Hawthorne who had spoken about the following;

This dealt with the skid marks on the road.
Mr Hawthorne said: " There are three diagrams of the marks. One is completed by the police officer at the scene. The third plan has been completed by the expert Dr Burg. The marks on Dr Burg's plan differ from those completed by the two plans of diagrams completed by the police officers.

QUOTE:

HM Coroner
In your experience would that be a measuring difference?

Mr Hawthorne It is not the measuring difference sir. In the colour photographs the marks have been highlighted by the police officer I think with white spray paint and you can see in the photographs that the marks comply with their diagrams but not with Mr Burg's plan.

What has happened is that Mr Duggan it seems was leaning forward so that indicates that he was running at the time. He struck the windscreen and was flicked violently round into the side of the Peugeot causing the damage to the door and the side of the window."

HM Coroner
Then the second impact occurred.

Mr Hawthone
He would have been lying full in the road.

HM Coroner
Which of the cars have ASB?

Mr Hawthorne
The Peugeot.

HM Coroner
Is there any way we can know if the ABS was working at the time or not?

Mr Hawthorne
Having examined the vehicle sir and the German documents there is no mention that the ABS was defective.

HM Coroner
That would affect road markings by the car.

Mr Hawthone
Yes I should make quite clear that a vehicle fitted with ABS can leave marks on the road but if it does they are generally much more faint than those left by a vehicle which is still."

The Coroner asked about whether anything in the report would help to know if the driver's were driving carelessly, dangerously, recklessly or not?

Mr Hawthorne answered: " The drivers were certainly travelling at a significant speed. I don't accept that the speeds calculated by Mr Burg are necessarily correct. In fact they are certainly wrong but as I said in my report I am conscious of the fact that it was 6 o'clock in the morning on a quiet part of the motorway and one would expect cars to be travelling at or near the speed limit"

Further discussion centred around the question of why the Peugeot - the car that had a braking system that should not have left marks left marks and the other that did not have an ABS system and should have left marks failed to do this.

Question by Counsel Mr Thomas
"In relation to the braking system on the first car, the Peugeot, you have indicated that it was fitted with ABS brakes. Am I right in thinking that you can't exclude the possibility that the first car didn't brake because there are no marks?

Mr Hawthorne
It must have braked to some extent to have to stop.

Mr Thomas
Before impact I mean.

Mr Hawthorne
I am not entirely satisfied which have been all contributed to the Peugeot actually relate to that vehicle. There are a number of reasons for saying that.

Mr Thomas
Secondly, am I right in saying that the second vehicle, this is the vehicle that actually ran over Jeremiah and is suspected of causing fatal injuries? Am I right in thinking that vehicle was not fitted with ABS brakes?

Mr Hawthorn
According to the German police, yes.

Mr Thomas
In the German police report, had they contributed any road marks to the Volkswagen?

Mr Hawthorn
No, they have not.

Mr Thomas
Do you find that surprising?

Mr Hawthorn
I do because there is a photograph of what we call a tyre abrasion mark, which clearly shows that car, has skidded at the road surface.

Mr Thomas
Can you exclude the possibility that the first car may have been driving intentionally at Jeremiah? Can you exclude that?

Mr Hawthorn
I think it most unlikely.

Mr Thomas
But can you exclude it?

H.M. CORONER ADVISES COUNSEL THAT WITNESS HAS ANSWERED SUFFICIENTLY

Mr Thomas.
The coroner has already indicated that this may be down to a translation difficulty this whole question about leaping in front of the car. Is the manner in which Jeremiah, the way he was spun round, is that consistent with something else other than somebody leaping in front of the vehicle and can you explain?

Mr Hawthorn
It is consistent with someone moving towards the vehicle as it is transverse in their path. It is very common when someone is struck by the side of the vehicle as opposed to the front of the vehicle for them to be rotated into the side of the car. The fact that the first contact was on the bumper and the second contact which must have happened literally a hundredth or two hundredth of a second later was on the windscreen in front of the passenger's side suggest to me that Jeremiah was running as opposed to just standing there or walking. Bur he was walking or running into - how he happened to come into contact with the side of the car that doesn't mean that he ran into the side of the car.

Mr Thomas
What is your view on the suggestion that he leaped into the car and him doing this intentionally from a road traffic accident point of view?

Mr Hawthorn
Obviously I can't say whether or not he did leap into the side of the car but what I can is that the driver's may have perceived that he leap when in actual fact he was either running to clear the cars or what they saw was the post impact movement of Jeremiah as he was flung around.

Mr Thomas
Can you explain that?

Mr Hawthorn
If someone is trying to cross the road and misjudge the approaching speed of the vehicles they will move very quickly to get out of the path of those vehicles. It could take the form of running in a few quick steps to try and clear the path of the vehicles.

Mr Thomas
How common or uncommon is it for people to misjudge the speed of the vehicles on busy roads like motorways?

Mr Hawthorn
Most people are not used to crossing fast roads. Our experience is to cross urban roads, such as roads that are outside where cars are travelling at 30 - 40 mph. If you think about it pedestrian crossing facilities are not provided on fast roads because it is too dangerous to cross them.

It is my experience that on roads such as this motorways and dual carriageway roads people are often run over because they misjudge the speed of approaching vehicles. Historically we are not used to crossing in those circumstances."

The traffic accident specialist was further questioned by Mr Thomas as to whether or not he could exclude the possibility that Jeremiah was pushed or pursued.
Mr Hawthorn stated that he could not exclude it.
The final questioning was about the position of Jeremiah ending up near the central reservation. Mr Thomas asked :
"If Jeremiah had been struck with the Volkswagen travelling diagonally across the traverse in two lanes, where would you have expected Jeremiah to have ended up?

Mr Hawthorn replied:
"If I were the driver of the Volkswagen I would be aiming very, very slightly to my left when I passed over Jeremiah, that is what I say happened because Jeremiah has ended up over there close to the central reservation, to my left. Dr Burg has completed a diagram suggesting that the Volkswagen was angled facing towards its right. What I say is, if that is correct, Jeremiah would have been projected in that general direction towards the hard shoulder on the right hand side of the road as opposed to the left hand side of the road."

In the summing up the Coroner spoke about how the German accident investigator Dr Burg and Mr Hawthorn agree with the actual events of the accident and that the public Prosecutor in Weisbaden has closed his file on all these events.

"The events can be summarised. At about 6.00am. Jeremiah Duggan was seen standing on the edge of the nearside lane of the B455 the road leading towards Wiesbaden town centre near a filling station. He was said to have suddenly jumped into the road way, he hit his head on the windscreen of a Peugeot and the impact tore of the right nearside wing mirror. He was thrown to the ground and a second car a Volkswagen ran over him.

There was nothing in the evidence to suggest that the driver's acts were deliberate. He received fatal head injuries and death was certified at the scene by a Dr Joseph at 6.35am. These bald facts leave a lot of unanswered questions.

What was with we ask ourselves that turned a stable and a apparently happy, young man with a stable relationship? What was it that turned that young man into a terrified young man? We know that the weekend before he'd had friendly conversations with his girlfriend on the phone, that was five days before his death. What was it that impelled him to make a phone call in the early hours at 4.20 a.m in the morning on the day of his death? Then phone his mother an hour later. There is no doubt that there had been a huge change. What was he frightened of? What was he scared of indeed terrified of? Was he scared of what might happen to him? Sadly we might never know what it was but something had happened that made him run away from the house into the road.

Now of course it isn't a court of guesswork it is not a court of speculation. We have to do the best with the facts that we have. These troublesome, troubling events are difficult to analyse and I take on board completely learned counsel's submission with regard to verdicts. What has happened doesn't fit into the neat short form verdicts that was the old style in a coroner's court.

I therefore propose to employ a narrative verdict, which has been approved by the courts and recommended by the fundamental review. I have taken on board the suggestions of learned counsel but fell in my summing up I have dealt with matters in great detail that is part of the court record but is the narrative that I can telescope it, crystallise it into a few words.

Jeremiah Joseph Duggan received fatal head injuries when he ran into the road in Weisbaden and was hit by two private motor cars. What other fact do we know that I must add? I really must add that he had earlier been in a state of terror. It is a world not commonly used in a coroner's court but no other word would reflect his state of mind at the time.

The Coroner then said to Mrs Duggan and the family, "on behalf of Her Majesty's Court can I offer you every sympathy in the loss of Jeremiah in these horrific circumstances.
Maybe you are not the only one in this court whose head is whirling with the evidence we have heard about matters and events and organisations in Europe. I wonder if we all have reason to be frightened."

A request was made not to mention certain names concerned with the case as threats had been received. The Coroner asked the press to respect that and not publish certain names.

 

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