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Gloriavale Inquiry: Family pay tribute to son and brother in court

Sincere Standtrue, photographed smiling while picking blackberries.  The image is one of three her family placed in the courtroom on the first day of the inquest into her death.

An inquest into the death of Gloriavale man Sincere Standtrue has concluded its first week at the Coroner’s Court.
Photo: Joanne Naish/La Prensa

The final video played at the inquest into the death of a Gloriavale man was a tribute to his life, compiled by his family.

Sincere Standtrue died in Christchurch Hospital in November 2018, after being found unconscious in the Gloriavale Christian Community paint shop 10 days earlier.

An inquest into his death and its circumstances was held this week in Greymouth.

Videos played at the coroner’s court on Friday afternoon included videos of Standtrue riding a horse and cart in the community, clips of several members of Gloriavale speaking at his funeral and a video tribute to his life.

Gloriavale’s senior leaders speculated about the circumstances of his death and set out their views on what happened in extracts from his funeral speeches.

“I can’t impose my conclusion on you… I want to ask you to leave Sincere in the hands of God,” said one.

One community member spoke of the youthful joy the 20-year-old had and described singing with him just weeks before.

“I started singing and he joined me. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a young man enjoy singing the Lord’s songs so much,” they said.

They then gave their opinion on Standtrue’s death, saying it was “tragic” and “sad.”

Standtrue’s sister Rose had previously told the court she was angry that her brother’s funeral became a place where others judged his death, rather than a celebration of his life.

A testimonial statement from another Gloriavale member also detailed Standtrue’s love of music and described a concept he shared with them about hiding pieces of paper with scripture verses and song titles in the community, to encourage people in his expression of faith.

The final video featured a montage of family photographs depicting Standtrue’s childhood, showing him playing, fishing, on vacation, and being baptized, often smiling and surrounded by friends and family.

“He really was always smiling, wasn’t he?” Coroner Alexandra Cunninghame commented after seeing it.

“We have heard some difficult evidence. I am aware from Hannah, Caleb and Rose that we are talking about their sincere, their loved one and the great loss they feel when we talk about him,” she said.

The coroner then adjourned proceedings until August, when another two weeks of hearings were set to hear further evidence and statements from the remaining 33 witnesses.

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