Inquest set into Hillsborough Hospital patient's death

Jim Day jday@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on February 22, 2016
Hillsborough Hospital

A jury will soon be charged with determining what, if anything, the Hillsborough Hospital can do differently in light of a patient’s suicide.

“If they see it is fit from the evidence presented, they’re allowed to make recommendations to prevent similar deaths,’’ said Dr. Roy Montgomery, the coroner who will be presiding over the inquest starting Feb. 29.

The jury will hear evidence surrounding the death of Sherry Jean Ball, 47, who died in 2013 at the psychiatric hospital in Charlottetown.

Montgomery says the inquest, which will be held in the P.E.I. Supreme Court building in Charlottetown, will likely take less than one week.

He will determine whether the inquest is open to the public based on arguments presented.

Most inquests, he notes, are open.

Montgomery says he is going into the inquest with an open mind.

“I’m sort of there just to preside over it and not to steer in any particular direction,’’ he said.

“The Crown actually presents the evidence.’’

Montgomery says the Crown has decided that there is nobody guilty of any criminal wrongdoing in the death.

“The jury is not allowed to recommend that charges be laid,’’ he adds.

Ball’s death occurred on Dec. 1, 2013.

At the time, Charlottetown police told The Guardian there was no foul play involved in her death, which occurred in her room at the Hillsborough Hospital.

Police were called to the scene and an internal review was held, but no details of this review were ever publicly released.

Early last year then P.E.I. Attorney General Janice Sherry granted approval for this inquest and one other. Then chief coroner Dr. Charles Trainor recommended both inquests.

One inquest, which has already been completed, delved into the high-profile murder-suicide case of four-year-old Nash Campbell and his mother Patricia ‘Trish’ Hennessey.

The bodies of the mother and son were discovered early in the morning of June 21, 2013, in a vehicle that had been set on fire in St. Felix in western P.E.I.

The six-member jury made 15 recommendations including a call for a child advocate representing children in custody battles.