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tragic death Emma McManus inquest halted after court application by husband following disputed 'cocaine' claims


Emma McManus

Emma McManus

Emma McManus

An inquest into the death of billionaire businessman JP McManus’s daughter-in-law has been temporarily halted following a court application for it to be held in private.

Emma McManus (40) was found dead on December 30 by her husband, JP McManus’s son John Paul, in the bedroom of their residence in the luxury Sandy Lane resort in Barbados.

A resumed inquest was due to hear toxicology evidence on Friday.

However, it was halted following an application by lawyers for John Paul McManus to a civil court in Barbados for an order directing the resumed hearing be held “in camera”.

At a previous inquest hearing in January there was a conflict between the coroner, Magistrate Graveney Bannister, and John Paul McManus about a phone call allegedly made shortly after his wife’s death.

John Paul McManus denied under oath he had told Magistrate Bannister during the phone call that they had been doing “a little cocaine”.

He insisted the coroner had misheard him.

Magistrate Bannister, who is also a priest, said Mr McManus had told an official in the coroner’s office the same thing.

But this was also denied by Mr McManus, who said he would happily take a test for the drug to prove he was right.

On Friday, Magistrate Bannister apologised to those present in the Coroner’s Court, saying the proceedings would not be able to go ahead.

“The proceedings will be adjourned until a further date due to an application being brought by the family McManus in the afternoon yesterday,” he said.

“We are awaiting direction from the court with regards to the application that was made, so we will await that,” he said.

Neither John Paul McManus nor his attorneys were present.

Local lawyers Satcha Kissoon and Maya Carrington filed the application on John Paul McManus’ behalf.

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They urged the civil court to impose an interim injunction staying the proceedings of the Coroner’s Court.

In the application it is alleged the coroner was biased in his dealings with the billionaire’s son and that he refused John Paul McManus the right to have an attorney present.

Madame Justice Shona Griffith, who heard the application, refused to grant the injunction but agreed to hear an application for the inquest to resume in camera. The judge said she would be clearing her calendar and wanted the matter dealt with by the end of March.

Emma McManus’s death came as a huge shock to her family. She left behind three daughters under the age of nine. A daughter of former tennis star and retired businessman Peter Ledbetter, she was a graduate of Trinity College.

She and her husband were childhood sweethearts and married in Portugal in 2010. They lived in Chelsea in London but had been in Barbados for a family get together over Christmas when tragedy struck.

The Royal Barbados Police ruled out foul play and treated the matter as a sudden death.

JP McManus, a currency trader and racehorse owner, was one of five Irish businessmen who bought the Sandy Lane resort in 1998.

At a memorial service in Barbados in January, his son John Paul said no words could describe his sense of loss after losing his wife.

“She was the very centre of our family and the person who the kids and I turned to for everything,” he said. “Life has changed irreparably for us all”.

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