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Coroners' court to hear case of Coquitlam RCMP in-custody death five years later

Witnesses are set to testify before a jury about the circumstances leading to Robert Andrew Blundell's passing.
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B.C. Coroners Service. | Glacier Media

A public inquest into the death of a man in police custody is taking place more than five years after the incident.

Robert Andrew Blundell died while he was detained by Coquitlam RCMP on June 18, 2017.

It's unclear how the 49-year-old passed, but local Mounties alerted the BC Coroners Service (BCCS) the same day.

Since then, witnesses were sought as officials hoped to build a timeline and understand the circumstances of Blundell's death — details won't likely be shared until the trial has concluded.

The case is a mandatory inquest, a BCCS news release states today (July 22).

It further explains such a case deals with any situation when a person dies when detained or in the custody of a peace officer.

Public inquests aid in investigations by asking witnesses to explain under oath to a jury of up to seven people, plus the presiding coroner, what they know about the incident.

The jury can then make recommendations "aimed at preventing deaths under similar circumstances" and "must not make any finding of legal responsibility nor express any conclusion of law."

By the end, facts related to Blundell will be determined based on what the public has provided, including his identity, as well as how, when, where and by what means he died.

The BCCS says an inquest is also conducted "to ensure public confidence that the circumstances surrounding the death of an individual will not be overlooked, concealed nor ignored."

Margaret Janzen is the presiding coroner for this particular case.

Blundell's public inquest is scheduled to take place Oct. 3, 9:30 a.m. at the Burnaby Coroners' Court in Metrotown.

livestream will be available for anyone wishing to attend virtually amid COVID-19 measures limiting physical attendance.

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