Inquest to find cause of 20-year-old Gloriavale man's death

Sincere Standtrue was the oldest of 11 siblings in his family. Pool photo: Joanne Naish/The Press
Sincere Standtrue was the oldest of 11 siblings in his family. Pool photo: Joanne Naish/The Press
By Niva Chittock

An inquest into the death of a 20-year-old Gloriavale man has begun today in Greymouth.

Sincere Standtrue died in Christchurch Hospital in November 2018, the eldest in his family of 11 siblings.

From the age of 15, he worked in the Christian community's paint shop.

He was found unresponsive in the shop by another Gloriavale member on the evening of 23 October, 2018.

The person raised the alarm and Standtrue was carried out of the paintshop and placed on the lawn outside.

Medical checks and CPR were performed by community members before the Greymouth rescue helicopter arrived a short time later.

Standtrue was admitted to Te Nikau Grey Hospital's Emergency Department that night, then transferred to Christchurch Hospital's intensive care unit the following morning.

A little over a week later, he was removed from a ventilator and he died on 2 November, 2018 .

Photos of Standtrue have been placed on display in the courtroom by his family.

Coroner Alexandra Cunninghame opened proceedings this morning with a karakia and acknowledgement of Standtrue and his family.

"I know that he was loved and that his sudden loss has been felt deeply... I offer my condolences to you for the loss of your son and brother," she said.

His parents, Caleb and Hannah Standfast, made a short statement to the court through their lawyer, Marcus Zintl.

"Sincere, you are loved and missed each and every day. Losing you was the hardest thing but we are so grateful for the time we had with you," he told the court.

The court would not be forming an opinion of the Gloriavale community during proceedings, Coroner Cunninghame said.

One of the photos Sincere Standtrue's family have put on display at the inquest in Greymouth....
One of the photos Sincere Standtrue's family have put on display at the inquest in Greymouth. Pool photo: Joanne Naish/The Press
Instead it would be looking into the circumstances of Sincere Standtrue's death, she said.

"I urge you all to keep in mind that we are working together for Sincere. I also wish to make it clear that everyone involved in this inquest must come to it from the perspective that all people in New Zealand are free to practise their chosen religion."

The inquest was separate from other cases which Gloriavale and its members had been involved in, Coroner Cunninghame said.

Counsel assisting the Coroner, Nathan Laws, outlined some of the issues that fell under the inquiry to the court.

They included the cause of death, what the circumstances of his death were and if the death was self-inflicted.

What state of mind he was in, including "whether Standtrue was bullied (including physical bullying, discipline) whether at work, or in the community generally", and "how well Standtrue coped with the set-up in the community" were also points likely to be explored, Laws said.

"Whether Standtrue was satisfied with how his life was progressing according to the markers within the community," would be considered too, he said.

The inquest will hear from 52 witnesses, including medical experts, emergency services, first responders and members of the Gloriavale community who witnessed events in the lead up to Standtrue's death.

It will run until Friday, then will be adjourned until the next hearing dates in August.

Local trusted journalism matters - now more than ever

As the Covid-19 pandemic brings the world into uncharted waters, Star Media journalists and photographers continue to report local stories that matter everyday - yours.

For more than 152 years our journalists have provided Cantabrians with local news that can be trusted. It’s more important now than ever to keep Cantabrians connected.

As our advertising has fallen during the pandemic, support from you our reader is crucial.

You can help us continue to provide local news you can trust simply by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter