Hatfield man found in decomposed state at home, coroners' court hears

PUBLISHED: 17:00 07 July 2017 | UPDATED: 17:31 07 July 2017

Hatfield's coroners' court

Hatfield's coroners' court

Archant

The family of a Hatfield man who was found in dead in his flat has asked for another hearing before the cause of death is concluded.

Jasmine Gardens resident Nicholas Ash, 43, was found in a decomposed state on August 31, 2016, with police concluding his death was not being treated as suspicious following the discovery of drug paraphernalia.

The court heard that the family had not spoken to him for several days, and after a relative went directly to his home and was unable to get in, police were called to force entry.

Coroner Geoffrey Sullivan said: “Having used the method of entry a hole was made in the door, and in front they could see Mr Ash lying inside the flat with his feet up against the door.

“Having got in to the property they could see Mr Ash was in a decomposed state and clearly deceased.”

Officers then searched the property and found a £10 note, credit card and white powder, and said there was no evidence of a struggle.

The court heard that the post-mortem was difficult due to the deterioration, but nonetheless the doctor was able to conclude that cocaine toxicity was the cause of death.

However, a family member at Hatfield’s coroners’ court yesterday (Thursday) remained unsatisfied, and claimed that despite Mr Ash having a history of drug use, he had been “in a good place” during the weeks beforehand.

The court also heard that Mr Ash had a root canal procedure the previous week that had caused distress, and the family member was concerned that he may have been using cocaine as a pain relief method.

He said: “[There is] no reference at all in the evidence to the root canal treatment, which from our [the family members] point of view was very relevant, because it may have led to sepsis and an alternative cause of death.”

Coroner Sullivan said that, from his experience of similar cases, the likelihood of sepsis was a “thin one”, and explained that his conclusions must be based on factual evidence rather than speculation.

But he added he was happy to adjourn the case to enable family members to put their questions to the pathologist at a future hearing before the final verdict is made.

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