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Coroner hits NT cops, docs for delays

AAP logoAAP 17/10/2016

The Northern Territory coroner has taken a swipe at police and health authorities after an inquiry into a woman's death was severely delayed by forensic and clerical inefficiencies.

Krista Louise Lloyd, 36, died of a heart attack in May 2015 but at the time, it was believed she may have suffered a drug overdose, and a coroner's inquest was called.

Coroner Greg Cavanagh released his findings on Monday, revealing delays forced Ms Lloyd's family to place regular calls to his office in search of clarity and closure on her death.

A toxicology report was not received by police until October 2015 while the autopsy report was not signed off until June 2016, more than a year after Ms Lloyd's death.

Mr Cavanagh said this was in part because the morgue facilities were not up to contemporary standards, while the short staffing of forensic doctors also needed to be addressed.

"The evidence provided by the department of health is that the mortuary facilities are 40 years old. They are based on a 50-year-old design," he said in his findings.

He said the slow investigation did not meet the family's expectations and was unresponsive to their frequent requests for it to be finished.

"By June, the coroner's office was receiving regular telephone calls (from the family) desperate for the matter to be completed," he said.

In his findings, Mr Cavanagh recommended that a minimum of two doctors be employed in the state's forensic pathology unit at all times; for most of the past decade there has been only one.

He also recommended the NT police do "all things necessary" to ensure coronial inquests are conducted and completed as quickly as possible.

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