Ralph Platten murder - inquest held

The inquest into the death of 95-year-old war veteran Ralph Platten was held today, with Norwich coroner William Armstrong recording a narrative verdict.

A coroner gave a carefully worded verdict into the death of war veteran Ralph Platten today, making sure he recorded a direct link between the vicious attack on the 95-year-old and the day he died.

Norwich coroner William Armstrong made it clear there had been an “unbroken chain of causation” between the day Mr Platten was pinned to the floor by a gang of robbers - suffering a blow to the head and a fractured hip - and his death of a heart attack a day later.

Mr Armstrong said there was no suggestion that the operation to fix the broken hip had not been carried out properly, adding the surgery had been “appropriately performed”.

Five people have been arrested in the course of the case from as far afield as Surrey, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

But the Crown Prosecution Service decided in April there was not enough evidence to bring charges. At the time detectives said their investigations had not led to anyone else other than the five already arrested.

After the inquest verdict was delivered, detectives investigating the attack on Mr Platten in January 2006 made it clear the case was still open and said they were still on the lookout for clues to strengthen the evidence they have already gathered during the lengthy and time-consuming investigation.

Most Read

Mr Platten, known as 'Tiger' to some of his friends and family, was attacked at his home in Sutton, near Stalham, by a gang of three or four men who rang the bell, bundled their victim to the floor and ransacked the house.

Along with a blow to the head and cuts to his elbow and hand, Mr Plattens's hip was fractured. An assessment of his condition was made at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and a decision to operate on the hip was taken.

Backed up by expert evidence during the inquest, Mr Armstrong said the operation was “standard and necessary” and was also carried out “properly”.

The inquest heard Mr Platten lived alone, had been resident in the same house since the 1960s and was active, often seen cycling around the village by friends and neighbours.

He had a type of heart disease common in elderly people but he had not been fully aware of its extent.

The inquest heard evidence from Det Sgt Andy Lubbock, Det Supt Chris Hobley, cardiologist Prof Roger Hall and forensic pathologist Nathaniel Carey.

Dr Carey described the surgery as “necessary” and said the cause of death was “acute heart arrhythmia”.

Recording a narrative verdict, Mr Armstrong said: “Ralph Platten died from a cardiac event following an appropriately performed medical operation which was necessarily carried out as a direct result of his receiving injuries as a consequence of an unlawful assault on him in his home.”

He added that it was an “enormous tragedy” that such a long life had been brought to an end by people who had “not yet faced the consequences of their actions”.

Afterwards, Det Supt Hobley, of Norfolk police's major investigation team, said he was pleased that the coroner had reflected the “callousness of the people involved” and the tragic way in which Mr Platten's life had ended.

“The case is still open and there may still be someone out there who can help us gather more evidence.

“It could either be someone who knows something about what happened, or it could be someone who saw something that day they don't realise was significant.

“Let us worry about what is significant, it could turn out to be important.”

Contact police on 0845 4564567 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter