AN INQUEST into the death of a Winchester woman, who died several years after being run over by a car driven by her ex-partner, has had to be adjourned after he failed to turn up for the hearing.
Key-witness Robert Wallace received his formal summons but told a coroner’s official on Tuesday morning that he was in Gwent and unable to attend the case probing the death of former girlfriend Claire Southern.
Coroner Grahame Short told the inquest Wallace was in contempt of court and would be resummoned.
He added that failure to comply and appear at a rescheduled hearing could result in him being arrested and appearing before a High Court judge.
Mr Short said Wallace was interviewed three times by Gwent Police after Ms Southern died: “He answered questions the first time, the following two he gave no comment.
“He then produced a prepared statement which he gave to police.”
Tuesday’s inquest heard how Ms Southern, of Woodfield Drive, suffered serious head and internal injuries after she was “run over” while in Gwent on July 4, 2009.
Gwent police said at the time that Wallace, then 55, had been at the wheel when his van was in collision with Ms Southern in the driveway of his home in Navigation Road, Newport at about 6.20pm.
The incident left her severely disabled, only able to walk with crutches and suffering from depression.
“Claire was a very unwell lady, who struggled with day-to-day activity due to her chronic pain,” her GP Dr Julie Rushen told the inquest.
Ms Southern eventually died on June 7, 2013 from massive organ failure after contracting pneumonia.
The 38-year-old was transferred from the Royal Hampshire County Hospital to Kings College Hospital, London, for her final days in a desperate bid by doctors to save her life.
Consultant pathologist Dr Jon Salisbury said the injuries she sustained from being run over would have contributed to her eventual death.
“The disability from the Road Traffic Incident would make her more likely to get the pneumonia in the first place,” he added.
A coroner’s spokesman confirmed that another summons was being sent to Mr Wallace for him to attend when the inquest resumes again next Tuesday.