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Investigators seeking witnesses in man's 2016 death en route to Port Coquitlam remand centre

Jeffrey Richard Maxwell was 30 years old when he died while being taken to the North Fraser Pretrial Centre.
A 30-year-old man died while he was in transit to the North Fraser Pretrial Centre in Port Coquitlam on Dec. 16, 2016. Now, a public inquest is taking place in July 2022 to determine the facts.

Officials are calling on the public for its help in hopes of gathering, sifting and confirming the facts of an open investigation into a man's death in the Tri-Cities — more than five years ago.

Jeffrey Richard Maxwell died on Dec. 16, 2016, while he was in transit to the North Fraser Pretrial Centre in Port Coquitlam.

He was 30 years old.

The death was then reported by Coquitlam RCMP to the BC Coroners Service (BCCS), which is now set to host a public inquest in Burnaby this summer about the incident.

The North Fraser Pretrial Centre — located at 1451 Kingsway Ave. — is a high-security remand centre for men that comprises of 300 cells, and is considered one of the largest provincial institutions in B.C.

BCCS spokesperson Ryan Panton tells the Tri-City News extensive information about Maxwell won't be publicly shared until after the trial is over, including if he was an inmate.

He explains the investigation remains open 65 months later, and provincial law prohibits information from being disclosed at this time.

So, what is a public inquest?

Maxwell's case is a mandatory inquest, a news release from the BC Coroners Service says, explaining such a case deals with any situation when a person dies when detained or in the custody of a peace officer.

Public inquests aid in investigations by asking witnesses to explain under oath to a jury of up to seven people, plus the presiding coroner, what they know about the incident.

The jury can then make recommendations "aimed at preventing deaths under similar circumstances" and "must not make any finding of legal responsibility nor express any conclusion of law."

By the end, facts related to Maxwell will be determined based on what the public has provided, including his identity, and how, when, where and by what means he died.

The BC Coroners Services says an inquest is also conducted "to ensure public confidence that the circumstances surrounding the death of an individual will not be overlooked, concealed nor ignored."

Maxwell's public inquest is scheduled for July 4, 9:30 a.m. at the Burnaby Coroners' Court in Metrotown. 

Larry Marzinzik will be the presiding coroner.

A livestream will be available for anyone wishing to attend virtually amid COVID-19 measures limiting physical attendance.