Inquest into care home choking death delayed for police decision on prosecution

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The inquest into the death at a care home of a brain injury patient who allegedly choked on a marshmallow has been delayed to allow police time to decide whether to pass its investigation to prosecutors.

Patrick Casey, 41, died on April 5 while under the care of Priory Hospital at Devon House in north London, lawyers representing his family said.

Law firm Leigh Day said Mr Casey had required residential care since 2005 when he suffered a brain injury in a traffic collision and he had been in the care of Priory Devon House since 2014

The law firm said that due to his brain injuries Mr Casey had difficulty swallowing and his food had to be pureed.

He choked to death on a marshmallow from an open packet that had been left within his reach, Leigh Day added.

An inquest was due to begin at North London Coroner’s Court on Tuesday, but senior coroner Andrew Walker said the case had to be adjourned to allow the police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to decide whether to launch criminal proceedings.

The inquest heard that police needed to review the statements they had taken and make a decision on whether to take the matter to the CPS.

Mr Walker did not set a date for a future hearing but he “expected to have another inquest in January”.

He added: “We don’t know whether the prosecution will proceed but until we do know, or at least the CPS is consulted, it seems to us that this inquest should be adjourned.

“I imagine it will be some months before we hear anything from the CPS.”

A spokesman for Devon House said: “We would like to extend our sincerest condolences to Mr Casey’s family, but we are unable to comment further due to the ongoing police investigation.”

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