Inquest into death of 34-year-old Norwich man following altercation with cyclist begins
08:47 27 February 2013
An inquest into the death of a 34-year-old Norwich man has revealed further details about an altercation with a cyclist which appears to have led to his death.
William Phillips, of Derby Street, was found dead at his home by his mother on Friday, July 20 - two days after he was involved in the altercation, outside the doctors surgery in Oak Street, off St Crispins Road.
Mr Phillips fell to the floor and hit his head, at around 8.50am on Wednesday, July 18. He received initial treatment at the Oak Street surgery and was then taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH).
Police investigated the circumstances leading to Mr Phillips’ death and arrested a 22-year-old man 10 days after the argument - whose name has been given during the inquest as Luke Howard - but dismissed the charges in September.
Norfolk’s assistant deputy coroner, David Osborne, heard from eyewitnesses about the altercation, including Shirley Kenton-Barnes, who said she saw Mr Howard push Mr Phillips “not violently, as if to say ‘keep away’,” before Mr Phillips seemed to lose his balance and fall.
She said: “I took no more notice as people from the medical centre came out and the next minute he was in a wheelchair.”
The inquest also heard from Dr Simon Shields, a medical doctor and consultant neurologist at the NNUH, about a neurological condition which had caused Mr Phillips problems throughout his life.
Dr Shields said Mr Phillips had adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), a rare condition similar to multiple sclerosis, which causes the myelin sheath, the fatty covering of nerve fibres, in a person’s brain or spine to progressively damage because of a faulty gene.
Dr Shields said the condition could cause Mr Phillips to seem “manic” in his behaviour as it effected the part of his brain which controls judgement and inhibitions.
Dr Safa Al-Sarraj, a neuropathologist from King’s College in London, confirmed an autopsy had shown Mr Phillips died as a result of a subdural hematoma (a gathering of blood) on the back of his skull which was consistent to a head injury suffered between 36 and 48 hours before his death.
He also said he could not say for definite if this had been caused by the blow to the head suffered in the altercation or a fresh blow suffered between Mr Phillips being released from the NNUH and his death.
- For the full verdict, see tomorrow’s Norwich Evening News.