Halesworth: Care home resident, 95, died after walking stick attack

image captionMay Miller was reportedly assaulted at Beech House in Suffolk

A 95-year-old grandmother died after a fellow care home resident attacked her with a walking stick, an inquest heard.

May Miller was assaulted in her sleep by dementia patient David March, 89, at Beech House in Halesworth, Suffolk.

Suffolk Coroners' Court heard Mr March, who had moved in five days before, was "clearly hallucinating" at the time of the attack on 9 February.

Area coroner Jacqueline Devonish said Ms Miller "died from natural causes precipitated by a violent assault".

The court heard Ms Miller, a former school cleaner, died in hospital on 16 February.

Care home staff found her covered in blood after hearing screams and another resident sounding the alarm.

The inquest heard Ms Miller was well enough immediately after the attack to tell staff what had happened.

Forensic pathologist Benjamin Swift told the hearing he found lacerations to her scalp with internal and external bleeding, but no fracture to the skull or bleed on the brain.

There were also injuries to her forearms consistent with her trying to defend herself, he said.

Mr Swift said Ms Miller had a history of natural diseases and her medical cause of death was recorded as ischemic heart disease and acute bronchopneumonia.

He said it was possible that "added psychological and physiological stress precipitated a deterioration in her already precarious state".

No memory of attack

Ms Miller's daughter Ann Baldwin said she was "convinced that the trauma of what happened to her was what my mum died of".

She said her mother, who she described as "very private", had complained earlier in the week about a man going into her room.

Mr March had moved into the care home on 4 February this year, his daughter told the hearing in Ipswich.

He had no recollection of the attack on Ms Miller before his death in March, the court heard.

His daughter, Elizabeth Wilson, said he had moved from a flat that he owned in warden-supported accommodation The Limes in Halesworth.

Ms Wilson said she had told staff at Beech House, during a pre-admission assessment, that her father had "episodes of paranoia" and thought his neighbours "were the Gestapo and coming to get him".

Recording a narrative conclusion, coroner Ms Devonish said she was concerned by the "lack of information sharing" and would write to The Limes and Suffolk Safeguarding to see if the situation could be improved.

She added that the attack with the walking stick "appeared to be the first violent outburst by David March", adding: "From the evidence I've heard it's unlikely to have been able to be predicted."

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