Clare Hennessy

Call 2009


Clare is regularly instructed on behalf of doctors, NHS Trusts, the Police and other Interested Persons to appear in inquests. Clare regularly appears in Article 2 inquests and inquests involving a jury. She has considerable experience in dealing with deaths in custody and deaths of detained patients. Clare is ranked as a leading junior for inquests by The Legal 500.

‘A junior who is excellent on her feet, easily builds rapport with witnesses, and gets great results in court.’
The Legal 500

Clare is a contributor to the fourth edition of Medical Treatment: Decisions and the Law (edited by Christopher Johnston KC and Sophia Roper KC).

Inquests & Inquiries

A large percentage of Clare’s court work is in inquests. Clients have said that her previous experience at the criminal bar has been useful when it comes to cross examining witnesses in the Coroners’ jurisdiction.

Clare enjoys the challenges of inquest work; inquest law is constantly changing and is often subject to judicial review. She enjoys the challenge of keeping up to date with recent case developments. She enjoys the advocacy involved in inquests and the opportunity to really learn, often in great detail, about a particular procedure or how a particular hospital unit or prison wing is run.

Clare has been instructed in many jury inquests, which is something she particularly enjoys, because when she left the criminal bar she did not think that she would appear in front of a jury with the regularity she currently does.

Clare has represented hundreds of IP’s at inquests, ranging from very complex cases where expert evidence is required, and detailed written submissions on the law have to be made, as well as the far more straightforward cases where witnesses need support in the giving of their evidence.

Cases & work of note

  • Representing Hertfordshire Police in the inquest into Cherry Groce which started the Brixton riots in 1985.
  • Represented Northamptonshire Police in the inquest into the deaths of Laurene-Danielle Jackson and Nabila Nanfuka at the Lava & Ignite Nightclub. The two university students died leaving the 1600 person capacity club when a crush developed on the stairs. A further 28 people were injured.
  • Represented West Mercia Police in a jury inquest listed for a week into the death of a teenager who absconded after taking a combination of Class A drugs.

Mental health

Clare has developed a particular specialism in relation to Mental Health inquests and has appeared regularly in cases concerning patients that have absconded and committed suicide or have committed suicide whilst under section under the Mental Health Act:

Recent Article 2 jury inquests include:

  • A five day inquest into a mental health community patient who committed suicide by jumping off a balcony;
  • A mental health detainee under section who absconded and drowned in the sea;
  • A long term section 3 patient who had committed over 70 acts of serious harm on herself who committed suicide.

Prison Deaths

Recent prison death inquests include (all acting on behalf of the Trust or clinician):

  • Inquest into the death of a former police officer who was in prison for murder, who was under 24 hour observation and committed suicide;
  • Inquest into the death of a prisoner who committed suicide in HMP Lewes;
  • Inquest into the death of an inmate who committed suicide at HMP Pentonville;
  • Five day inquest into the death of an epileptic who died from an epileptic fit in a police custody suite; and
  • Two week jury inquest into the death of an individual who was apparently suffering from a mental health crisis and asphyxiated herself in police custody.