The unattended death of a person under unusual or unnatural circumstances is reportable under the provisions of the Coroners Act 2003 in Queensland, and similar Acts throughout Australia, where the presiding Coroner will conduct an inquest to determine a cause of death or provide findings for police to investigate or commence criminal proceedings.
A reportable death to the Coroner includes incidents where,
- The identity of the person is unknown
- The death was violent or unnatural
- The death happened in suspicious circumstances
- A ‘cause of death’ certificate has not been issued and is not likely to be issued by the deceased medical practitioner.
Unattended deaths fall into the category of ‘Reportable Deaths’, where Police will treat the location as a crime scene & commence an investigation securing the property from public access. The identification process & determining the cause of death are the main reasons for this, and may distress relatives psychologically where decomposition or violent trauma has occurred, together with associated delays with reporting the matter to the Coroner.
The scene may be secured until such time the Coroner & Forensic Investigators (police) fully conduct an examination or inspection before releasing the property for relatives to enter & remove contents or perform cleaning & restoration.
Human decomposition can occur in a very short time after death, with bodily fluids & bacterial odours penetrating & contaminating the internal structure & contents, where specialized containment, treatment & restoration should occur to safely restore the property.
In most cases an unattended death results from natural causes and are not considered suspicious during the investigation. Medical evidence often supports this & police finalise their obligations & reports to the Coroner in a timely manner.
For further information relating to Coronial matters or support agencies contact Coroners Support Agency or speak to your local Police investigators.