Pensioner fell and died of exposure

A CARER who went outside to hang up his laundry fell over and died of hypothermia, an inquest heard.

Laurence Cawley

A CARER who went outside to hang up his laundry fell over and died of hypothermia, an inquest heard.

Police initially treated the death of widower John Rudge, of Queen Street in Stradbroke, as “suspicious”.

But an inquest in Bury St Edmunds today heard how the 75-year-old's death was a tragic accident and how it was not the fall which killed him but the hypothermia which followed.


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The inquest heard how Mr Rudge was discovered lying dead on the patio by a visiting nurse on March 3. The nurse had been sent by Suffolk Primary Care Trust following a call from Mr Rudge who was a full time carer to Evelyn Hawes, with whom he lived.

The inquest heard how nobody answered the front door when the nurse called. But when she went around to the rear of the house she found the 75-year-old lying lifeless on the patio.

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In a written statement to the inquest, Det Insp David Rutterford said: “She noticed there was some blood on the patio and she went around to the front of the house and 'phoned the police.

“The body was very cold to the touch and the clothing was still in the basket and not on the line.”

Greater Suffolk Coroner Peter Dean described the death as being the result of “very unexpected circumstances”. “The situation was treated initially as a suspicious death quite properly,” he said.

Detectives from Stowmarket police investigated the death and the house was forensically examined by scenes of crimes officers.

Grazes were discovered on Mr Rudge's elbows as well as a cut above his right eye.

Home Office pathologist Dr Benjamin Swift carried out a post-mortem examination and found the primary cause of death was hypothermia.

In the wake of Mr Rudge's death Mrs Hawes was said to be in “an apparently confused state” and was taken to hospital by paramedics to be looked after.

Dr Dean said: “We don't know the exact circumstances of that fall. No other person was involved. It was not a suspicious death.

“He possibly knocked himself out as a result of the fall and then suffered exposure. There was a sequence of events leading to the death itself which was essentially a fall and the deceased being exposed to the elements whilst wearing minimal clothing. He had a head injury that would not on its own have been fatal.”

A narrative verdict that Mr Rudge died of hypothermia after a fall was recorded.

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