Inquest and Coronial Law:
Ranked Tier 1 for Inquests and Inquiries in The Legal 500 (2021)
‘Lorraine is a conscientious and thoughtful advocate who demonstrates absolute commitment to do the best for each of their clients.’
In December 2017 Lorraine Harris was appointed as Assistant Coroner for Kingston Upon Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire and in 2019 has been appointed as Assistant Coroner for Doncaster. As well as the additional insight one gains in such a role, Lorraine holds one of the only qualifications to encompass coronial law. As such Lorraine has a uniquely rounded view of the role of the coroner – not only inquest law and procedures but also coroners’ wider duties involving non-suspicious deaths and those occurring in other jurisdictions.
In her previous career as Head of Crime Scene Investigation (SOCO) for Kent Police, Lorraine dealt extensively with cases of murder, suicide, accidental death and suspicious death. She holds a qualification for crime scene examination set by the Chartered Society for Forensic Sciences (previously the Forensic Science Society)
She achieved National Association of Funeral Directors Diploma, a professional qualification encompassing all aspects of funeral directing and coroner’s procedures. This assists in both her Assistant Coroner role but also on advising families and interested parties in the coronial process.
Lorraine represents a range of interested parties in all types of inquest. Her years of experience in investigating death and dealing with the coroner’s office sets her apart from others practising in these areas.
Her insight and knowledge in policing gives Lorraine the ability to represent those facing procedures bought by the police. Lorraine has knowledge of court orders, allegations concerning dangerous dogs including appeals, confiscation and disciplinary matters.
Lorraine has undertaken a secondment with Humberside Police Legal Department advising on a variety of policing matters including professional standards, police rights and court orders. She has represented various police forces in a variety of applications including confiscation, dangerous dog procedures and obtaining court orders for harm prevention and house closures.
Lorraine was appointed as independent counsel and undertaken legal professional privilege work in two very high profile matters involving allegations made by Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise and South Yorkshire Police. Both of these matters attracted a high volume of media interest.
Lorraine also has experience with confiscation, trading standards, taxi licencing and food standards.
Notable Cases – Inquests
- Inquest – DP (Doncaster Coroners Court) – Represented South Yorkshire Police. Police had been called to an attempt suicide 2 days prior and were recalled to see DP the night before he died. The issue of police powers to detain DP under Mental Health Act 1988 and whether hospital trust should have sectioned him at time of attempt suicide. The findings of fact and conclusions were not critical of the actions of the police.
- Inquest – CC (Scunthorpe Coroners Court) – Represented LH, a Paramedic called to CC following a fall but he refused medical treatment. CC died later that day. The issue of whether CC had capacity to refuse treatment following fall, actions of paramedics. The findings of fact and conclusions were not critical of the actions of LH.
- Inquest – CT (Sheffield Coroners Court) – Represented South Yorkshire Police. Deceased was a serving police officer who was off work at time of incident. Issue of the conduct of police as an employer dealing with officer during his illness. The findings of fact and conclusions were not critical of the actions of the police.
- Inquest – MB (Lincoln Coroners Court) – Represented ML, Bus Driver. MB was a teacher who had just left school and was cycling on a marked cycle path on the pavement but then collided at junction with bus. Issues regarding road traffic law. The findings of fact and conclusions were not critical of the actions of ML.
- Inquest – HS (Bradford Coroners Court) –Represented JB, member of the Sikh Temple. HS had mental health care issues with amphetamine in her system assaulted an elderly lady outside the Sikh temple. HS then went into the temple for a meal. Her actions were highlighted to representatives at the temple who approached her whereby she became verbally abusive and threw the mental food tray at JB before trying to attack him. HS was restrained and the police were called. Issues of postural asphyxia, lawful restraint, knowledge of same. The findings of fact and conclusions were not critical of the actions of the police.
- Inquest – DS – Represented Mr SP (Driver) and the interests of the insurance company. DS was in drink and fell into the road, into the path of an oncoming taxi.The findings of fact and conclusions were not critical of the actions of DS.
- Inquest – Mr and Mrs H (Hull Coroners Court) – Represented the insurance company of the vehicle being driven by Mr H. Mr H suffered a medical incident while driving. He collided with oncoming traffic. Both he and his wife died from injuries sustained in the collision. Noting brief only.
- Inquest – Mr HO (Bradford Coroners Court) – Represented taxi driver. Complexity of medical evidence. 12 medical opinions were given with regard to the incident.
- Inquest – AS (Leicester Coroners Court) – Represented NJ a nurse who treated AS after a fall. Inquest found that capable of movement after fall. The findings of fact and conclusions were not critical of the actions of NJ.
- Inquest – FC (Stockport Coroners Court) – Represented MC a carer who looked after FC at the home where he lived. Issue re actions of staff when FC fell ill. The findings of fact and conclusions were not critical of the actions of FC.
Notable Cases – Representing Police
- Secondment for Humberside Police – Seconded to Humberside Police Legal Services. During this time I prepared and attended court for a variety of applications including sexual harm prevention orders, domestic violence prevention orders, breach of orders and dangerous dog applications. Carried out research and advice on a variety of topics from the powers of police community support officers to advice on the procedure for police vehicles (marked and unmarked) receiving traffic offence tickets. I was also responsible for dealing with discipline hearings.
- Humberside Police Re Private Address (Doncaster Magistrates Court) – Represented South Yorkshire Police in their first ever application to close a house used in crime. The house was used continually for drug dealing which was adversely affecting the neighbourhood. The application was granted.
- Humberside Police v JB and EJ (Hull Magistrates Court) -Representing Humberside Police in an application under Dangerous Dogs Act. Ownership of dog and fit and proper person test for any contingency order an issue .
- South Yorkshire Police v MS – Representing South Yorkshire Police. Domestic Violence Protection Order to exclude MS from the marital home for a period of 1 month in order to allow his wife to liaise with domestic violence help groups. Issues of Law: Police powers, human rights.
- Humberside Police v PG – Representing Humberside Police. This was seizure of cash under the Proceeds of Crime Act. This was the highest cash seizure under this section of the act that Humberside Police had prosecuted. PG initially arrested for Murder, eventually convicted of manslaughter. A search of his premises revealed a large amount of cash and valuable items which were not linked with the crime but it was submitted were from crime. I dealt with this matter in the Magistrates Court and then PG appealed and I dealt with the matter in Crown Court.
Notable Cases – Licensing/Food/Trading Standards
- UAK v Stockton Council (Teesside Magistrates Court) -Represented company. Application by authorities to remove his food licence.
- SA v Rotherham Council (Rotherham Magistrates Court) – Represented SA who had his taxi licence removed following Rotherham Council’s appointment of an ombudsman. All taxi licence holders were reviewed and anyone with any criminal record had their licence revoked, fit and proper person test applied.
- R v MS (Leeds Magistrates Court) – Represented Specialist Fraud Division. Listed for trial regarding selling of produce that fell below standards. Matter able to resolve following extensive negotiations and MS pleaded guilty. Issues of law: EU regulations, food standards.
- West Yorkshire Trading Standards v AP – Represented AP who was charged on a 20 count indictment. AP company had carried out sub-standard work and not offered the relevant guarantees. Pleas accepted to 12 of the matters, it was agreed that this was shoddy workmanship and poor management rather than actively targeting vulnerable people.
Contact Lorraine’s clerk
Thanks to her operational forensic background with the police service, Lorraine Harris benefits from additional insights, not usually available to barristers, into all types and levels of crime. Her in-depth knowledge of crime scene examination and police protocols assist her greatly in both prosecution and defence work.
As former Head of Crime Scene Investigation (SOCO) for Kent Police, Lorraine was responsible for forensic strategy and crime scene investigation for crimes including murder, firearms offences, sexual and violent assaults, burglary, robbery, vehicle crime, criminal damage, drug offences and arson.
She was recognised by the then Home Secretary, the Chief Constable (also president of ACPO) and Her Majesty’s Coroner for her role as lead forensic officer in one of the UK’s largest human-trafficking investigations (the death of 58 immigrants found in a container lorry at Dover Port).
Lorraine enjoys both prosecution and defence work in the Crown Court. Her background coupled with a practical approach means that she is able to represent a variety of clients, often being selected for her ability to deal with those who have additional needs. Aside from trials, Lorraine’s sensible approach allows her to present mitigation for those defendants who have been committed to the Crown Court for sentence.
Lorraine’s attention to detail means that she often secures excellent proceeds of crime results. She represented Humberside Police in their highest confiscation of money seized from an address both in the lower court and then at appeal in Crown.
Although the majority of Lorraine’s work is in the Crown Court, she still maintains a high level of success in defending difficult matters in the Magistrates Court. Recently achieving acquittals in reasonable chastisement, racially aggravated public order and assault of a vulnerable adult. Lorraine also deals with traffic matters, securing acquittals in careless driving and speeding technicality trials as well as a high success rate in securing exceptional hardship findings.
Lorraine was appointed as independent counsel and has undertaken legal professional privilege work in two very high profile matters involving allegations made by Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise and South Yorkshire Police. Both of these matters attracted a high volume of media interest.
- R v AW (Teesside Crown Court) – Disclosure junior for defence in historic rape. Over 10 years of telephone and facebook messages to show contact between complainant and witnesses. Issues with police investigation and loss of paperwork. AW found not guilty.
- R v M (Leeds Crown Court) – For CPS. Prosecuted trial of man accused of S18 GBH against a police officer. Mental health issues arose and finding of fact found M did the act. Hospital order at close.
- R v DP (Leeds Crown Court) – For CPS. Listed for trial but DP pleaded guilty on day of trial. Handling items stolen from the house of the deceased following his murder while the body was still in situ.
- R v ZR (Teesside Crown Court) – Represented Mrs R who was accused of theft from a vulnerable lady on a weekend trip. During cross examination of the complainant the issue of her knowledge of what money she had spent throughout the trip arose. Submission of no case to answer successful and Mrs R found not guilty.
- R v LP (Warwick Crown Court and Sheffield Crown Court) – Represented LP. Previously of good character LP was charged with 3 burglaries and allowing to be carried on 2 separates indictments (8 offences in total). The first indictment had 3 co-defendants, the second indictment LP stood alone. LP guilty pleas were accepted, his co-defendants maintained not guilty pleas until day of trial. Preceding trial the Crown attempted to lay further mattes on the indictment for LP but were unsuccessful in doing so. LP then charged with an additional burglary in a 3rd jurisdiction. Able to argue totality and good character at sentence and received 34 months in total for all offences.
- R v SB (Leeds Crown Court) – Represented Crown Prosecution Service. For CPS. Burglary – offender duped an older lady into entry by feigning ill health, after lady had given her drink and something to eat she stole her purse. Lady had dementia, issues of medical disclosure, hearsay and bad character arose. Plea of Guilty obtained.
- R v AQJ (Manchester Crown Court) – Represented AQJ in his POCA following conviction for unlawful imprisonment. AQJ along with others had held 2 men in a house against their will until they repaid money that had been handed over during a fraud. The complainants were subsequently arrested and charged with fraud totalling £1million taken mainly from elderly Asian men. Crown proceeded with POCA against defendant – legitimate claim by illegitimate means.
- R v SB (York Crown Court) – Represented Miss SB who had posted “revenge porn” on her ex boyfriends facebook page. Photographs of him in female underwear. SB initially claimed the complainant had posted pictures to advertise his services on adult websites. Further investigation revealed they were different pictures. Issue of law: Sentence, whether previously posted for reward.
- R v ST – Teesside Crown Court – Represented ST in his trial for Arson. Defendant had previously burned down same barn. Expert evidence called with regard to particular burn times and electrical fires.
- R v AD (Kingston Upon Hull Crown Court) – Represented AD in his trial for Arson. CCTV placed AD at scene of fire when discovered, AD also awoke with singed hair the following morning. Expert evidence called. AD found guilty but of lesser charge (no intent to endanger life).
- R v JG (Kingston Upon Hull Crown Court) – Represented JG who was accused of hitting his wife’s lover. His co-accused was a freeman of the land and refused counsel however this would have had an adverse effect on JG’s case so dealt with both defendants’ issues. Able to get lover’s wife to admit that her husband was a lying. Both defendants acquitted. Judge made positive comments on Lorraine’s contributions to the co-accused case.
- R v KS (Scarborough Magistrates Court) – Represented KS for S39 assault on daughter. Reasonable chastisement defence. Daughter had mental health and behaviour issues. Police officer investigating had previously been complained about by KS and the police officer’s bad character was adduced at trial. Acquitted.
- R v Ma (Leeds Magistrates Court) – Successfully argued that loss of CCTV evidence was an abuse of process and case discontinued against Ma.
- R v JSD (Doncaster Magistrates Court) – Represented the defendant JSD in a careless driving matter. This was argued on a procedural point that the Crown were out of time and had not laid the charges correctly. The Crown discontinued the matter.
- R v A (Grimsby Magistrates Court) – Represented the Defendant A in a motorcycle careless driving matter. This case was argued using expert evidence. Using previous experience in investigating fatal road accidents an expert opinion was sought following disclosure of the Crown’s case. The expert report addressed the issues of concern that Lorraine had highlighted and was submitted to the Crown who discontinued the case.
- R v AJC – Represented the Defendant AJC in a speeding matter. This case was argued using expert evidence. The location of the camera, the officer’s statement were contradictory. The matter came to day of trial where the Crown offered no evidence based on the reports submitted.
- R v JL (Kirklees Magistrates Court) – Represented Mr JL in his trial for criminal damage. Able to show complainant had tampered with video evidence submitted to court, lied about version of events and had been taunting Mr JL. Mr JL acquitted.
- R v Mb (Leeds Magistrates Court) – Represented Mb who was accused of racially aggravated public order. Acquitted.
- R V H (Leeds Magistrates Court) – Represented H, a teacher, in his trial for assault of a vulnerable adult. Self defence arose due to history of biting and aggressive behaviour. Acquitted.
Contact Lorraine’s clerk