'Dangerous' paedophile died two years after being locked up for plying girls with booze and abusing them
A convicted paedophile whose abuse 'cast shade' over his victims' childhoods died two years after being sentenced, a coroner heard. Gerald Coppel was handed a 14-year prison term after plying three girls with alcohol before exposing himself and abusing them.
At a pre-inquest review held on Tuesday (May 10), the court heard Coppel had been in custody at Salford's Forest Bank Prison since 2019. Coroner Peter Sigee said that from the evidence submitted to the inquest so far, he understood that Coppel 'came into prison with significant health concerns', which endured throughout the rest of his life.
Mr Sigee, area coroner for Manchester West, added: "I understand Mr Coppel was never in the main area of the prison. He was always in the healthcare unit at the prison."
The court heard Coppel was transferred to Salford Royal Hospital during the 'final stages of his illness'. Laura Hackney, representing Sodexo Ltd, which operations and healthcare at Forest Bank Prison, told the court Coppel 'had been refusing treatment for his condition' prior to his death.
No further details about Coppel's health condition were given at the pre-inquest review. Mr Sigee has requested Coppel's medical records from when his custody began at Forest Bank Prison, and further information is expected at the final hearing.
A jury is not currently expected to hear the case. Mr Sigee told the court that from the evidence he had seen so far, Coppel had 'died as a result of natural disease processes whilst in state detention'.
He added: "If there were care concerns to suggest Mr Coppel's death was contributed to by neglect, that would make it a potential unnatural death. But at this stage nothing has suggested this is an unnatural death."
On March 20, 2020, Coppel was sentenced at Manchester Crown Court to 14 years in prison after pleading guilty to 19 counts of indecent assault. Of those counts, 13 referred to a child aged under 13 and six to a child under 16.
The offences relate to three girls who were abused over a number of years in the south Manchester area. Coppel also signed the Sex Offenders Register and was subject to a sexual harm prevention order for life.
Following his sentencing, Det Con Beth Coffey, of GMP’s City of Manchester district, said: “I want to thank the victims for their bravery in coming forward and helping us to bring this man to justice for his horrendous crimes. They have been incredibly brave throughout the investigation and court proceedings and are ultimately the reason this dangerous man is now behind bars.
“The abuse that Coppel inflicted on his victims has not only cast shade over their childhood, but will affect all of them for the rest of their lives." Coppel's final inquest hearing is expected to take place in November at Bolton Coroners' Court.