Peter Roebuck 1956-2011 November 14, 2011

Police expect delay in Roebuck inquest

ESPNcricinfo staff

The circumstances surrounding the death of Peter Roebuck, the well-known cricket journalist, will probably not be known for another month at the least, police have said, even as details emerged of Roebuck's last few minutes. Roebuck, 55, committed suicide in Cape Town on Saturday night while being questioned by police over an alleged assault.

Colonel Vishnu Naidu of the South African Police Services told Sydney's Daily Telegraph paper the inquest could take "anything from six months to two or three years". On Sunday, he'd told ESPNcricinfo a formal statement would be made after the inquest.

"But what is critical here is to get the autopsy reports, or what we call the post-mortem report," Naidu said. "We will be looking at that first and that can take four to six weeks, sometimes up to eight weeks. When we get that report, we can determine officially what his cause of death was.

"There is no crime suspected as far as Mr Roebuck's death is concerned. If someone dies of unnatural causes and there isn't suspicion of a crime being committed, then we conduct an inquest."

Details have also emerged of Roebuck's apparent mental turmoil in the minutes before he ended his life. Roebuck's ABC colleague Jim Maxwell, whom he had phoned from his hotel room during the questioning, told the Sydney Morning Herald - the paper Roebuck worked for - of the scene when he entered the room.

Maxwell said he found two policemen in the room, and Roebuck stunned by news he'd been accused of sexual assault.

''Peter was in a state of utter despair. He was sitting in a chair, near the window and I can tell you it takes five seconds to open that window,'' Maxwell said. ''Given his state of mind, he just had a brain snap. That is all I can assume.''

Maxwell was allowed to remain in the room for about two minutes, during which time Roebuck asked him to find a lawyer and contact the students he helps house in Pietermaritzburg, near Durban. Then police told Maxwell to leave.