The Michaela Hall Inquest concludes

March 26, 2024

The inquest into the death of Michaela Hall has concluded.

David Sandiford acted for the National Probation Service.

Michaela Hall was in an abusive relationship with Lee Kendall who subjected by her to significant physical violence, coercion and control. Kendall murdered Michaela in 2021.

The Senior Coroner for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Mr Andrew Cox articulated the dilemma from the outset: “As a society we have a choice: do we allow an adult with capacity to continue an unwise relationship she wants with a violent partner or do we take the stance that where coercive and controlling behaviour exists the State must step in to safeguard a woman who cannot or will not accept that she needs protection from her partner?”

The Senior Coroner recognised that Michaela chose to enter into a relationship with Kendall. She did not listen to the advice of her family or her friends who told her to have nothing to do with him. To the contrary, she committed to the relationship at the cost of her children living with her, family relationships and, ultimately, her life.

Over the course of 2 weeks and over 40 witnesses the inquest examined, amongst other matters:

  • The circumstances of the fatal attack;
  • Whether the police response to the report of the attack was adequate, including the arrangements for Crimestoppers to report immediate safety concerns to the police;
  • Whether a different or faster response would have made any difference to the outcome;
  • The multi-agency response to the risks posed by Kendall
  • Whether the response of the relevant agencies (Probation Services; MARAC; Child and Adult Social Care; Police; First Light) to the risks presented by Kendall to Michaela was adequate including the assessment of the risk, response to the risk and communication with the other agencies. Agencies had great difficulty in finding further options that could be pursued to limit the risk to Michaela
  • Whether there ought to have been a referral to the High Risk Behaviour Panel;
  • Whether the police shared risk information with the other agencies in relation to earlier domestic abuse;
  • Whether all reasonable options were pursued given Michaela’s seeming reluctance to help herself;
  • Whether the risk of Michaela forming inappropriately close relationships with offenders was adequately addressed by PACT and Julian House;

The Senior Coroner concluded that Michaela was unlawfully killed and that there were failings on the part of institutional and State IPs.

The Senior Coroner is likely to issue PFD reports.

Other interested persons in the inquest included Devon and Cornwall Police, the Kent and Sussex CRC, Cornwall Council and Julian House.

The inquest has been widely reported in the national media:
BBC News
The Guardian