HAMPSHIRE'S senior coroner has hung up his hat after overseeing thousands of inquests in the last 28 years.

Grahame Short was appointed to the role in 1991 and says his job has "changed vastly" since the start.

Now, between 5,000 and 6,000 inquests later, the 65-year-old looks forward to his retirement after wrapping things up on Wednesday (October 30).

He said: "My wife and I are looking forward to a long trip away to New Zealand. But for the more distant future, I'm keeping an open mind. "I have no plans to take on another role but I will wait and see and take things as they come. I would like to volunteer some of my time into conservation work."

Mr Short has previously worked as a solicitor for White, Brooks and Gilman. In 1982 he joined Blake Lapthorn, now known as Blake Morgan, and was a partner specialising in commercial property.

Grahame continued: "When I first started as coroner, it was a steep learning curve. Since then, inquests have become much less probing. Things used to be taken as they were read, at face value.

"Now they are much more family focused. Inquests used to be on the behalf of the general public, to find out what happened, but now it's much more on behalf of the deceased and the family.

"I think that's because society has changed and people don't always accept what they're first told."

Mr Short also believes that there are too many lawyers involved in modern-day inquests. "When an experienced barrister is representing a trust or the prison, for example, and the family aren't represented by anyone, it's harder to keep an open mind," he added.

"Some cases stick in your mind. Almost all of those involving children were difficult, particularly when my sons were younger.

"I'll always remember the case of Naomi Bryant who was murdered. There were a lot of issues to overcome, and it was a jury inquest that took a long time.

"Another one is Nunes and Markland, the two trying cash-in-transit who were shot by the Met Police."

Grahame will be replaced by Chris Wilkinson who is currently an assistant coroner in East Sussex. He will start on Monday (November 4).

"I live in Ringwood and have been commuting for years along the A31. It's got worse and worse, so it's a big relief that I won't have to use that road anymore!"