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Woman restrained during panic attack on luxury cruise liner, inquest hears

PUBLISHED: 17:33 01 July 2019 | UPDATED: 17:37 01 July 2019

Marguerite Hayward on the Regent Seven Seas cruise. Picture: FRED HAYWARD

Marguerite Hayward on the Regent Seven Seas cruise. Picture: FRED HAYWARD

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An inquest into the death of a Suffolk grandmother has heard how she had her hands and legs tied by staff during a panic attack on a Mediterranean cruise ship on what was meant to be an £8,500 "holiday of a lifetime".

The Haywards on their wedding day. Picture: FRED HAYWARDThe Haywards on their wedding day. Picture: FRED HAYWARD

Marguerite Hayward died in July 2017 aged 83 at the Glastonbury Court Care Home in Bury St Edmunds weeks after being forced to leave the luxury cruise ship The Seven Seas Explorer.

The inquest at Suffolk Coroner's Court in Ipswich heard how Mrs Hayward, who suffered from mild dementia, and her husband Fred, from Lavenham, were on the cruise off the Italian coast on 25 April 2017 when she suffered the panic attack.

Doctors now believe may have been linked to an issue with her heart.

Her husband tried to calm her down but she became violent and he called for help from the ship's staff.

Marguerite Hayward and husband Fred on the Seven Seas Cruise. Picture: FRED HAYWARDMarguerite Hayward and husband Fred on the Seven Seas Cruise. Picture: FRED HAYWARD

A total of seven people responded, including a security guard, nurse and the ship's doctor, and she was physically restrained before then being subdued by two doses of sedative administered by the medical staff.

Mr Hayward later had to pay more than £1,300 for the sedative.

Ship's doctor Dr Florante Bejar said in a statement he "had never seen anything like" the violent episode.

He said Mrs Hayward "kicked, spat and pulled the hair" of the people trying to restrain her.

Marguerite Hayward. Picture: FRED HAYWARDMarguerite Hayward. Picture: FRED HAYWARD

She also said that she has wanted to kill herself and threatened to jump from the balcony of the couple's cabin.

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Dr Bejar diagnosed Mrs Hayward with paranoid schizophrenia.

However Dr Nigel Ineson, who was called as an expert witness by the ship's operators Regent Seven Star, told the inquest he thought that was "incorrect" saying there was "no evidence" for that diagnosis.

Marguerite Hayward in the Italian hospital. Picture: FRED HAYWARDMarguerite Hayward in the Italian hospital. Picture: FRED HAYWARD

He also said that he did not believe Mrs Hayward's dementia was a factor in her extreme reaction.

The following morning, Mr and Mrs Hayward were asked to go to the medical centre where they were told that they were being removed from the boat in Sorrento, Italy, just a day before they were due to fly home.

After questioning the decision and being told that it was made at the cruise company's HQ in Miami, they agreed to leave the boat and they were escorted to their room to pack their bags.

Once on shore, the couple were met by an ambulance whose staff demanded Mrs Hayward get onto a stretcher.

According to Mr Haywood, who died in February 2019 and whose statement was read to the hearing, when his wife refused the paramedics "grabbed" her wrists and ankles and moved her into the back of the ambulance.

It then started to drive off, leaving him behind until he managed to open the passenger side door and force his way in. When they reached Sorrento hospital Mrs Hayward was again sedated by doctors.

Mr Hayward, who served in the Korean War and Suez campaign in the 1950s, said it was the "worst time" of his life.

Mrs Hayward's son, Anthony flew out to Sorrento to take care of his mother, who was later flown back to Suffolk where she was taken to West Suffolk Hospital.

She was later transferred to Glastonbury Court in Bury St Edmunds where she died on July 29, 2017.

The inquest continues.

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