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Exning/Bury St Edmunds: Victim of assault at West Suffolk Hospital died of natural causes

13:00 04 January 2014

West Suffolk Hospital

West Suffolk Hospital

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A war veteran who died just days after being assaulted in hospital died of natural causes, an inquest heard yesterday.

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A post mortem examination found that 86-year-old Richard Bowman, from Exning near Newmarket, died because of a combination of pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cardiac failure.

Mr Bowman died at West Suffolk Hospital on December 8, just 12 days after he was allegedly attacked by a dementia patient at the hospital and found by nurses in a pool of blood. Mr Bowman had been admitted with a chest infection a day earlier.

A post mortem examination was carried out the day after Mr Bowman’s death by Dr Nathaniel Cary, a pathologist for the Home Office.

Mr Bowman’s family told a national newspaper after his death that they believed he should never have been left alone with the patient, describing the situation as a “national disgrace”.

His son, Charles Hawes, 63, told the newspaper: “He was 86. He was much too weak and elderly to fight back. He couldn’t walk more than 10 yards without being out of breath.

“I can only say what everyone else is saying – it didn’t help his situation. His body was fighting something else.”

The post mortem findings were revealed by Dr Peter Dean, coroner for the district of Suffolk, at the official opening of Mr Bowman’s inquest in Bury St Edmunds yesterday.

The inquest has been adjourned pending further enquiries, and will resume at a later date.

A spokeswoman from West Suffolk Hospital said: “We are taking this incident extremely seriously and are carrying out a full investigation.

“We would like to take this opportunity to extend our sincere condolences to the patient’s family.”

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