AN inquest has opened into the death of a woman who had been missing for 21 days.

Lucy Charles was found about two-and-a-half miles from where she was believed to have entered the River Dee, the inquest opening held in Ruthin heard today (Monday, January 22).

A large-scale rescue operation was launched after 39-year-old Lucy was reported missing on December 22 but the river was so swollen by recent rain that conditions were very difficult for members of the North West Regional Underwater Search Team.

What happens at an inquest and what can the press report?

Reporting on inquests is one of the most difficult jobs faced by any journalist, but there are important reasons why local newspapers attend coroner’s court hearings and report on proceedings.

Here we will try and answer some of your questions about what will happen, what can be reported and why.

Ms Charles, of Millbrook Lane, Bangor-on-Dee, who was well-known in the area having worked in local pubs, was last seen at about 5.35pm on December 22 when she was caught on CCTV near the Royal Oak public-house.

John Gittins, senior coroner for North Wales East and Central, said the water level had fallen significantly by January 12. This was when the search team discovered her body during a surface level search near Dongrey Hall Farm, about 2.5 miles downstream from where items of Ms Charles’ property had been found on the riverbank.

Adjourning the inquest to a date to be fixed, the coroner said that samples had been taken for testing and so a decision on the cause of death had been deferred.