The ceremony took place at Cheshire Coroner’s Court, St James Business Centre, Wilderspool Causeway, having recently moved from its previous location at Warrington Town Hall.
In Cheshire, there is a full time Senior Coroner and an Area Coroner, where the Area Coroner is the Senior Coroner’s deputy. There are also several Assistant Coroners who work in a part-time capacity.
Area and Assistant Coroners are legally qualified judges in the same way as the Senior Coroner and they have the same authority when dealing with deaths and hearing inquests.
Sworn in as the Area Coroner for Cheshire, Coroner Victoria Davies, was previously an Assistant Coroner in Blackpool. Victoria qualified as a solicitor in 2014 after studying Law and French at the University of Manchester and practiced in health law, with a primary focus on inquests.
Six new Assistant Coroners for Cheshire were also sworn in during the ceremony. These include Coroner Sarah Murphy, who has worked as an Assistant Coroner for 11 years. Sarah qualified as a Solicitor in 2002 and practiced criminal law for 21 years in a variety of legal roles before specialising in coronial law.
Sworn in to continue in the role of Assistant Coroner, Coroner Heath Westerman has been part of Cheshire Coroner’s Court since 2019. Heath has conducted more than 1,000 inquests and is keen to continue this work for the community in Cheshire.
Coroner Elizabeth Wheeler started her career specialising in healthcare regulation before diversifying her practice to include crime and extradition. Elizabeth has a specialist healthcare advisory and regulatory practice, which includes inquests, court of protection work and mental health law.
A barrister with over 20 years’ experience, Coroner Charlotte Keighley practises criminal, family and inquest work and will also be joining Cheshire Coroner’s Court as an Assistant Coroner.
Also sworn in is Coroner Alexander Frodsham, who was elected Junior of the Northern Circuit in 1999, before specialising in personal injury and inquests. Alexander was appointed by the Attorney-General to represent the government in civil matters, as Junior Counsel to the Crown in 2015 before being re-appointed for a further five years in 2021.
Coroner Kate Ainge, will be taking up the Assistant Coroner role after previously working in the same position in Liverpool and Wirral. Kate also works as a Deputy District Judge and will serve Liverpool, Wirral and now Cheshire Coroner’s Court.
Senior Coroner for Cheshire, Jacqueline Devonish, who formally took up her role in August last year, said: “Coroners have an important role to play in the judiciary and in the community. I am confident our new additions will bolster our resilience and improve the efficiency of the service.”