Stressful family dispute is likely to have brought on man’s death

The death of John Smith, 55, at Campbell Drive, Barrow Hill, at Staveley, had sparked a police investigation.
The death of John Smith, 55, at Campbell Drive, Barrow Hill, at Staveley, had sparked a police investigation.

The death of a man - which initially triggered a police investigation - has been put down to a cardiac failure likely to have been brought on by a stressful family dispute.

A Chesterfield coroner’s court inquest heard on Monday, September 18, that taxi driver John Barry Smith, 55, of Hillman Drive, Inkersall, Chesterfield, died at his partner’s home on Campbell Drive, Barrow Hill, Staveley, on July 29, last year, after suffering an acute fatal cardiac event.

Mr Smith’s death was being treated as potentially suspicious by police following reports he had been involved in a dispute.

Assistant Derbyshire Coroner Kathryn Hayes formally concluded: “John Smith had a background of significant atheroma and cardiac disease which may have led to an acute fatal cardiac event at any time.

“However, his collapse and death occurred within one hour of an altercation between himself, his stepson and others in a dispute over another family member and within four days of a separate altercation in the same dispute.

“It is likely that the physical and psychological stresses caused by these altercations precipitated his collapse and death.”

Pathologist Dr Stuart Hamilton said he had been led to understand there had been a physical altercation but it was not thought Mr Smith had sustained a punch or a blow but he might have fallen due to an injury to his right eye.

Dr Hamilton added the information he was provided explained Mr Smith had later felt unwell and paramedics were alerted and he was declared dead on the same afternoon.

A post mortem examination revealed three main arteries of Mr Smith’s heart showed atheroma or furring, according to Dr Hamilton, and in the main artery there was a clot and that vessel had blocked.

Dr Hamilton stressed there was no significant head or brain injury and there was no alcohol or drugs present in Mr Smith’s system that would have contributed to death but he added that anyone with the same degree of heart disease could have collapsed at any time.

However, he said that physical and psychological stress can precipitate a sudden death from cardiac causes due to the release of adrenalin increasing heart rate and blood pressure.

Witness Thomas Hill told the inquest he had been involved in a confrontation with another man on July 29, 2016, who had been in a car with Mr Smith.

Mr Hill said the man leaned forward and Mr Hill admitted punching him but he added he did not punch John Smith.

Wayne Vaughan, owner of Wisebuys at Staveley, also told the inquest how two men had come into his store on the same date including a younger lad with a steel bar before they were told to leave and he saw then drive away at speed.

The inquest, held at Chesterfield Justice Centre, confirmed the cause of death had been the thrombosis of an artery, or a blood clot, and coronary atheroma, or furring of the arteries.

Three people were arrested at the time of Mr Smith’s death but they were released without charge and police said there would be no further action.