Identity of remains awaits inquest ruling

A date remains to be set for an inquest into the death of Derek Hawkins. Photo by Marjorie Cook
A date remains to be set for an inquest into the death of Derek Hawkins. Photo by Marjorie Cook
Final closure for the family and people investigating the disappearance of English tramper Derek Hawkins will not come until a date is set for a coroner's inquest in Queenstown.

Human remains found almost three weeks ago by trampers in the Siberia Valley region of Mt Aspiring National Park were sent to Dunedin for a pathology study to establish whether they were Dr Hawkins.

Wanaka Search and Rescue acting police team leader Acting Sergeant Emma Fleming said results from the pathologist's report would not be made public until an inquest by Queenstown coroner Alan Macalister was formally completed.

In the case of Dr Hawkins, identification remained inconclusive and was therefore a key matter which the coroner would establish as part of the investigation and concluding inquest, she said.

‘‘The coroner has the final say on identification of the human remains as part of his inquest,'' Sgt Fleming said yesterday.

Mr Macalister could not be contacted yesterday.

A spokeswoman for the Queenstown-based coroner said a date was yet to be finalised for an inquest for Dr Hawkins.

Dr Hawkins (72), of Sheffield, in northern England, went missing in March last year.

An extensive search and rescue operation, which involved up to 30 people in specialist search teams combing the isolated and rugged back-country of the Siberia Valley, near Makarora, failed to locate any sign of the university lecturer.

Human remains and personal items from a backpack were discovered 21 days ago in dense bush beside the South Siberia Stream, in a valley about 4km from Dr Hawkins' listed intended destination.

Dr Hawkins was last seen leaving on a day tramp from the Siberia Hut for Crucible Lake.

His disappearance bears many hallmarks of that of missing Israeli tourist, Liat Okin (35).

Ms Okin was last seen leaving the Mackenzie Hut on the Routeburn Track on March 25. A search for the missing Israeli woman is now in its fifth week

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