The inexplicable death of a 'wonderful gentleman'

The late David James. Picture kindly submitted by family.
The late David James. Picture kindly submitted by family.

Grieving relatives of a 'wonderful gentleman' who died after he complained to his GP about chest pains believe further tests 'could have changed everything'.

Many questions are likely to forever remain unanswered after a coroner recorded an open conclusion at a second inquest into the death of David James today.

Chesterfield coroners' court heard 53-year-old Mr James, who had a history of mental health problems, saw Dr William Riddell in Whitwell and complained about chest pains.

Dr Riddell said he conducted two ECG screenings and blood tests but these did not reveal any problems.

A number of Mr James's relatives were present in the court and asked Dr Riddell why he was not sent for further tests.

The GP explained he felt Mr James's chest pains were musculoskeletal in nature, not cardiac-related.

Later in the inquest, during highly emotional scenes, one of Mr James's relatives said: "Further tests could have completely changed everything.

"Our David wasn't taken seriously.

"He was let down."

The inquest heard how Mr James's anti-psychotic medication was changed on a number of occasions and that his drugs had the potential to cause cardiac complications.

Pathologist Dr Andrew Hitchcock said he examined Mr James's body - which was badly decomposed - and identified areas of scarring in his heart muscle; he could not identify what caused this.

Coroner James Newman asked Dr Hitchcock: "Could this scarring cause chest pain?"

He replied: "It's possible - but that's the view of a pathologist, not a clinician."

Mr Newman later asked him: "Is it possible Mr James's death was caused by a cardiac event?"

Dr Hitchcock answered: "It's possible - but I can't exclude something else that's been lost due to the decomposition of his body.

"I can't say the scarring caused his death."

Dr Hitchcock said the cause of Mr James's death was unascertained but ruled out 'any violent or third party involvement'.

One of Mr James's relatives asked Dr Hitchcock: "If David had been sent for further tests, would the scarring have been picked up?"

But the pathologist replied: "I can't answer that as my professional expertise isn't with the living."

Recording an open conclusion, Mr Newman said: "Mr James was found deceased at his home on Bakestone Moor, Whitwell, on October 17, 2013.

"Due to significant post-mortem changes, the exact cause of death cannot be identified."

He offered his condolences to Mr James's tearful relatives and added: "I realise that many questions remain unanswered for you.

"You probably now have more questions."

Paying tribute to Mr James, his relatives said: "David is sadly missed every day by his six sisters and one brother.

"He was the most loving, honest man.

"He was a wonderful gentleman who would do anything for anyone."

After the inquest, Mr James's relatives said they are now considering taking further action.