The death of a local man from an injury suffered while in pre-trial custody at Prince George Regional Correctional Centre could become the subject of an inquest.
Prince George coroner Donita Kuzma raised the possibility on Friday, although she stressed that determination won't be made until the evidence gathered during an initial investigation is presented to the chief coroner.
In an inquest, a jury hears evidence related to a death in order to make recommendations related to preventing similar events in the future.
Paul Gerard Judge, 47, died on Christmas Day from an injury he received five days before. No foul play is suspected but whether he committed suicide or the death was accidental remains part of the investigation, Kuzma said.
She indicated an inquest is possible because the chain of events began while the man was in custody. That Judge actually died in hospital five days later could make the investigation a "little tricky," Kuzma said, and it could take a little longer than usual to gather evidence.
"At this point it's still a little early," Kuzma said when asked if she knew when the findings will be handed to the chief coroner.
Up until spring 2010, inquests were mandatory for all in-custody deaths but that's no longer the case following amendments to the provincial Coroner's Act.
Now, the chief coroner can forgo an inquest if satisfied the death was due to natural causes, could not be prevented, and not connected to the care the person received in custody.
The move did not sit well with the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, who argued eliminating the requirement could result in wrongful deaths being undetected.
Judge had been arrested on Dec. 17 following a shots fired incident at a home near the corner of Fifth and Tabor. He had been facing eight charges, including two counts of attempted murder.
With his death, the case against Judge is no longer being pursued.