Day Centre Staff ‘Did All They Could’ For Man Who Died From Fit

A coroner has said that there is no evidence of any lack of care by staff at a Belfast day centre after a man collapsed there and later died in hospital over a year ago.

There were emotional scenes at an inquest yesterday after the family of Paul Thomas Graham (28), who died following an epileptic seizure, challenged a version of events presented to the court.

Mr Graham, of McQuillan Street in Belfast, died on June 14 of last year after he collapsed at the Everton day care centre in north Belfast.

Belfast Coroner’s Court heard that Mr Graham had learning difficulties and had suffered from epilepsy since early childhood, although he had not suffered any seizures in the six months leading up to his death.

He had been eating his lunch on the day in question and had gone into another room with some banana still in his mouth.

Staff said that a short time later he was seen to be collapsed in a chair and appeared to be lifeless.

Despite attempts to revive Mr Graham by centre staff, paramedics and doctors, all of whom attempted to clear food from his mouth, he died later at the Mater Hospital.

Gerry Robinson, deputy manager at the Everton complex, said that the centre had many clients who suffered from seizures, that sometimes three or four could occur in a day and these were often of ” complete unpredictability”.

At one point Mr Graham’s father, Patrick, was led from the courtroom after he challenged Mr Robinson’s version of events from the public gallery, saying: “You are telling lies over my son’s grave. We have to live without him.”

His son, also Patrick, later explained that the family believed Mr Graham had died from choking on food rather than a seizure.

Assistant state pathologist Dr Peter Ingram, who carried out a post mortem examination, said that food from Mr Graham’s stomach had been inhaled during the seizure and that there was evidence of stomach acid in the lungs.

Mr Leckey recorded that Mr Graham had died from inhalation of gastric contents due to epilepsy.

Mr Leckey said: “There is no evidence of any lack of care by anyone who attended Paul at the centre on the day in question.”