A Colne man with significant learning disabilities choked on an incontinence pad which led to his death, an inquest has concluded.
East Lancashire Coroner Mr Richard Taylor recorded the death of James Pepper (77), of Beverley House, Hereford Road, on September 26th last year, as accidental and said the item should not have been in the room.
The inquest heard from Mr Pepper’s support worker Ben Sidlow who had gone to run Mr Pepper’s bath in the morning as usual.
Mr Sidlow told the court that Mr Pepper, who was also suspected to have dementia, would usually “potter about” until his bath was ready.
But after five minutes of putting on the washing machine waiting for the bath to run, Mr Sidlow said he was “surprised” Mr Pepper “had not come looking for me” and went to look for him.
Mr Sidlow told the inquest he found Mr Pepper lying on the floor in his room, his head close to his dressing table, and debris from a bin on the floor.
The inquest heard the bin was not visible standing up and had likely been forgotten about.
Mr Sidlow said he first thought Mr Pepper had fallen, but as he supported him he made a gurgling or gasp. He said: “My first thought was that he had fallen. It never crossed my mind that he had tried to eat something. I didn’t know what he had been doing.”
The inquest heard Mr Sidlow removed a golf ball sized piece of material out of Mr Pepper’s mouth but there had been something further down.
Mr Sidlow delivered mouth to mouth and CPR on Mr Pepper until an ambulance arrived and paramedics worked on him for another 25 minutes before he was taken to Royal Blackburn Hospital where he died.
Dr Walid Salman told the inquest that after the post-mortem there was no obvious natural cause of death.
Dr Salman said he found some foreign material in Mr Pepper’s stomach. He also told the inquest said Mr Pepper had significant narrowing of the arteries, by 40%.
Mr Taylor concluded: “Having had a chat with the doctor, it seems to me the most likely cause of death was choking.”
He went on saying Mr Pepper’s airways were blocked which “led to some sort of heart arrhythmia”.
Mr Taylor added: “It’s unfortunate that the item was in the room but as I said it could not have been foreseen that’s what he could have done with it.”