Natural causes blamed for sudden death

A BATTLE man who lay dead in his home for up to two days before being discovered is likely to have died from natural causes, an inquest heard.

The body of Haydon Ashley Bartholomew, 51, was too decomposed for the pathologist to ascertain how he died, but medical experts said it was possible Mr Bartholomew had suffered a “cardiac event” which led to his death.

Mr Bartholomew was found on the living room floor of his Mountjoy home by his brother-in-law on Monday July 18 last year.

Barry Noakes told the inquest, which took place at Hastings Magistrates Court on Wednesday, that he had arranged to meet with Mr Bartholomew the following Saturday, but became worried after he could not reach him by telephone.

A couple of days later, after another unanswered phone call, Mr Noakes went round to Mr Bartholomew’s home and with the help of a neighbour, managed to get into the property.

He found Mr Bartholomew’s body on the floor next to the sofa, where he always used to sleep.

Police were called to the scene at 7.15pm and Mr Bartholomew was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.

The retired train guard had lived with his mother up until her death in 2007 and both were regular heavy drinkers.

After her death, Mr Bartholomew had managed to cut down on his drinking.

When police entered his home they found ‘four or five’ empty wine bottles and an empty spirit bottle near Mr Bartholomew’s body.

Another 25 empty wine bottles were discovered in one of Mr Bartholomew’s two bedrooms.

Although alcohol was found in Mr Bartholomew’s body, toxicologist Andrew Smith described the blood sample given to him for analysis as “very poor” as Mr Bartholomew had been dead for a while.

The inquest heard that it would be difficult to determine how much alcohol Mr Bartholomew had drunk prior to his death as alcohol found in his body after death may have come from a bottle, or it may come from the body itself.

In death the body may contain alcohol created by its own bacteria, and this alcohol level can rise as the body decays.

Mr Bartholomew was taking Tramadol, a strong painkiller, along with valium and Temazepam, a drug which can be used to treat insomnia.

A number of boxes of prescription medicines were found in Mr Bartholomew’s home, along with asthma inhalers.

GP Dr Paula Rivett from Oldwood Surgery in Robertsbridge, said Mr Bartholomew was “well known” at the practice and would call the surgery “frequently” with questions.

A receptionist at the practice had bumped into Mr Bartholomew in Battle High Street two days before his body was found.

When asked by coroner Alan Craze what she felt could have caused Mr Bartholomew’s death, Dr Rivett said: “If he was feeling ill he would have called for help.

“On that basis it sounds like it could have been a sudden event.

“He was not known to have heart disease but it can always happen.”

Pathologist Stanford Mathe said there was no evidence Mr Bartholomew had suffered a stroke or brain haemorrhage or any external injury which could have led to his death.

He added it was “quite likely” a cardiac death.

Coroner Alan Craze said: “I have no doubt whatsoever that Mr Bartholomew died of a natural cause and I think what you see that it was most likely to be a cardiac nature.”

He recorded a verdict of death by natural causes.