This case involved a challenge to the verdict of HM Coroner for Portsmouth and South East Hampshire who, on 13 November 2008, held an inquest touching the death of Russell Anthony Neal Jenkins. The appellant applied to the Administrative Court for judicial review of the Coroner’s decision.

In December 2006, Mr Jenkins injured his foot. He developed an infection which, compounded by his diabetes, did not resolve itself and developed into gangrene. His condition deteriorated and he died at his home in April 2007. At no stage did Mr Jenkins or anyone else seek to obtain conventional medical advice or treatment for his condition. Mr Jenkins ceased to use conventional NHS services at the end of 2001. Instead he was interested in alternative medicine such as homeopathic remedies. His live-in partner, the Second Defendant, was a Registered General Nurse. As such, it was alleged that she should have known of the risks of diabetes and gangrene and therefore should have stepped in to prevent his death. However, the Coroner concluded that she owed no duty of care to take any action. In the alternative, if she did, this duty was not breached as she was following the strict wishes of Mr Jenkins not to involve any medical professional. The Coroner’s view was that the overwhelming cause of death was the refusal of Mr Jenkins to contemplate outside help.

The appellant challenged the verdict on the ground that it was perverse, contending that the only rational verdict would have been that Mr Jenkins was unlawfully killed, by the gross negligence or manslaughter of the Second Defendant. The Administrative Court found the appellant had failed to discharge the burden of proof that the Coroner should not reasonably have come to the conclusions that he did. The Court upheld the Coroner’s verdict, and dismissed the appeal.

R (on the application of Donald Lewis Jenkins) v HM Coroner for Portsmouth and South East Hampshire (1), Cherie Elizabeth Cameron (2) & Elizabeth Finn (3) [2009] EWHC 3229 (Admin)