Inquest date set for tragic Luke

Luke Rhoden

Luke Rhoden

The delayed inquest into the death of a former Wigan Warriors academy player who died while on a stag do in Ibiza will take place next week.

The family of Luke Rhoden are hoping for the hearing at Bolton Coroner’s Court to result in a verdict of unlawful killing.

Hopefully this could be the thing we’ve been working towards

Norman Rhoden

Speaking to the Observer, the 25-year-old’s father, Norman, said such a verdict would be “the platform to open up civil proceedings in Spain.”

Luke, a former Winstanley College student, suffered cardiac arrest but video footage of an altercation with Guardia Civil officers minutes before has led to claims he was the victim of police brutality.

The Rhoden family’s quest for answers has been boosted as the medic who attended to Luke after he was restrained by police will give evidence at the hearing.

And, despite initial concerns to the contrary, there will be a jury in place to assist the coroner.

Mr Rhoden said: “Hopefully this could be the thing we’ve been working towards.

“The doctor from Spain will be either there in person or will be able to give his evidence on Skype.

“We wanted everything to be in place and that’s the main thing for us, the delay has been necessary.”

Luke was found to have drugs in his system having reportedly jumped from his hotel balcony on the Mediterranean island.

But it is the details of the clash with officers that is expected to form the crucial part of the three-day inquest hearing.

Mr Rhoden said: “There were drugs in his system, that has never been an issue, it’s what happened in those last moments (with the police).”

A verdict of unlawful killing could trigger a criminal investigation in addition to paving the way to civil claims over Luke’s death.

The hearing was set to take place last year but was hit by delays. Mr Rhoden, who has travelled to Ibiza and spent time speaking to witnesses, has previously criticised an apparent lack of co-operation from the Spanish authorities

He told the Observer in 2015: “Listening to what has been said at the preliminary hearings, the questions are being asked about the police but because of the drugs in his system, it is up in the air.”

The death of the popular former Warriors academy player prompted thousands of tributes two years ago.