The family of a retired Metropolitan Police detective who died after drunkenly falling backwards down a staircase, have made a formal complaint about the way his inquest was dealt with.
New Malden man Henry Doyle, known as Harry, 52, died in St George’s Hospital a week after he was admitted following a series of late-night drunken falls at his home in The Mount.
The alcoholic father-of-two died on May 17 but wife Jan Doyle, 55, said it had been “appalling” that the family were made to wait 10 months for an inquest into his death.
She said: “For people who have been bereaved this is appalling. I feel that I am fighting for those people that are coming after me so that they do not have to go through 10 months of distress and grief.
“People need to move on. If I had not written [to the court] in December I don’t think it would have come to court. I was told ‘files do not go to the top of the pile unless relatives call us’.”
The teaching assistant and sessional registrar said the long wait had meant she could not sort out her husband’s finances, will and probate.
She added after requesting a copy of her late husband’s post mortem report she was accidentally given someone else’s - a 44-year-old man who had committed suicide.
During the inquest at West London Coroner’s Court on Wednesday, coroner Chinyere Inyama acknowledged the delay and said under new guidelines this would never happen again as all inquests would be heard within six months.
Mr Doyle served in Northern Ireland before moving to the West Midlands Police and the Metropolitan police where he completed 30 years of service and was given an exemplary service award before he retired from the Professional Standards unit in West Brompton in 2011.
Mrs Doyle said: “He was a loyal, loving husband and father who is sadly missed and it need not have been this way. If it had not been for the drink he would still have been around.”
BREAK OUT During the inquest Mrs Doyle gave evidence about the fall which led to her husband dying.
She described being in bed at around 1am before being awoken by a loud “bang” which she found had been her husband falling over. After tending to him she returned to bed before hearing another bang.
She said: “I heard another bang – and he was in the same position the paramedics found him in. It was a pattern that had gone on for a number of years.
“I think he retired from the police force and lost his identity – that ‘yes sir, no sir’. I think he did sink into a depression.”
“The doctor said to him ‘you have to give up drinking or you are going to die’.”
She said he was only able to give up drinking for a few weeks.
The couple had been married for 25 years and had holidayed in Sydney for Mrs Doyle 50th birthday and in New York for Mr Doyle’s 50th birthday in 2011.
The coroner read out evidence from Dr Jeremy Harris, of the Groves Medical Centre in New Malden where Mr Doyle had been a patient since 1993.
His evidence stated that Mr Doyle consumed 50 units of alcohol in a week in 2001 but this rose to 230 units a week by the last time he visited the centre in March 2013.
Coroner Inyama concluded Mr Doyle died a drink related death led on by bronchial pneumonia through his head injury.
After the inquest Mrs Doyle said: “There was a series of falls. He was getting worse. I expected something like that to happen.”