‘Deny deny deny’: Texts sent between Newcastle students before police questioning over the death of a fresher last year

Student witnesses have been encouraged to seek legal representation before the inquest next May

A pre-inquest hearing for the death of Edward Farmer, who was 20, was told this week that his parents have raised questions over Northumbria Police’s investigation.

Initial enquiries into Mr Farmer’s death after attending a first year initiation ceremony in Newcastle in December 2016, suggested his condition was caused by consuming “excessive amounts of alcohol”.

Newcastle Coroner’s Court heard on Wednesday that Mr Farmer’s parents are concerned about text exchanges between other students present at the party which included the instruction “deny deny deny” before witnesses were called in for police questioning.

Representing the family, Simon Kernyckyj then raised concerns that only three of the 17 student witnesses set to be called to the inquest were fresher’s.

The court heard that around 50 people were at the party and 20 to 30 of those were in their first term of university.

Mr Kernyckyj said: “There are only three first years when they were the people who were the subject of this event, there seems to be a disproportionate number of people running the event compared to those attending.”

The inquest has now been postponed until May 2018 while more evidence is gathered.

Newcastle University’s legal officer, David Lewis, has warned that student witnesses may well come under a severe pressure at the inquest.

Mr Lewis said: “It strikes me that it is in the realms of possibility that some individuals will have fingers pointed at them at this inquest and may wish to have legal representation. There is one person in particular who may wish to do this.”