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Inquest hears how man dies after stabbing himself in Swadlincote GP surgery

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: February 14, 2014

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A PATIENT who had been crossed off a GP surgery’s list for threatening behaviour decided to stab himself at the practice to ‘cause a terrible scene’, an inquest heard.

But it was actually an underlying heart condition which caused Terence Smith’s death – six days after the incident at the Heartwood Medical Practice, in Swadlincote.

The inquest heard how the 70-year-old had been verbally abusive towards staff the surgery, in Civic Way, on several occasions.

But it was told this escalated to ripping up papers on the desk of practice manager, Shani Fairbrother, in March last year – after he received a letter about an appointment he missed.

Staff at the practice then decided he would have to be removed off their register and transferred to another surgery, in Derby.

But the court heard how, five days later, Mr Smith came back to the surgery and stabbed himself with a kitchen knife. Paramedics were called and he was taken to hospital.

Assistant coroner Paul McCandless said: “We’re all used to going to the doctors’ surgery and used to whiling away the moments waiting.

“It’s the one place you certainly don’t expect something like that to happen.

“It must be etched into the mind of everyone involved but everyone seemed to spring into action to help Mr Smith.”

Derby and South Derbyshire Coroner’s Court heard how Mr Smith, of Castle Road, Castle Gresley, appeared to be making a recovery at the Queen’s Hospital, in Burton. But, less than a week later, he died from a heart attack.

Forensic medical examiner Dr Andrew Hitchcock said he discovered he was suffering from ischemic heart disease – a common heart complaint.

Dr Hitchcock said: “The added stress and trauma (of the incident) would have had an adverse effect on his diseased heart.”

The inquest heard how Mr Smith had a history of mental illness and was suffering from some memory problems.

It was told he phoned his daughter, Maria Maxwell, on the day of the incident and told her: “I love you and I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do.”

Fellow patient Elizabeth Joannides said she had been sat near Mr Smith before he stabbed himself and he kept muttering ‘I want to die’.

He was taken to hospital with three stab wounds.

A receipt for a knife was later found in his belongings.

But Mr McCandless said he could not record a conclusion of suicide in the case of Mr Smith’s death because he did not believe he intended to kill himself.

Recording a conclusion of misadventure, he said he believed Mr Smith’s intent was to “cause a terrible scene and trouble.”

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