Middlesbrough Tesco worker died after altercation with thief

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Family photo of Hilary Simmons (right)Image source, Family handout
Image caption,
Hilary Simmons (right) collapsed less than half an hour after the confrontation

A Tesco worker collapsed and died after an altercation with a shoplifter, an inquest has heard.

Hilary Simmons, 59, was taken ill at a Tesco Express store on Corporation Road in Middlesbrough on 30 April 2018.

A pathologist concluded the stress of the confrontation "directly contributed to her death", but not to a criminal standard.

A post-mortem exam found she was suffering from heart disease which could have caused death at any time.

The inquest, at Teesside Coroner's Court, heard shoplifter Michael James Love was later convicted of theft.

Giving evidence, Mr Love said he had concealed a bottle of wine inside his jacket but was challenged by Mrs Simmons.

In his police interview, he claimed she shouted and swore at him and alleged that she pushed him, though this was denied by other witnesses.

He denied pushing her and claimed he had wanted to leave but Mrs Simmons stopped him, which was also disputed by other witnesses.

Image source, Google
Image caption,
Hilary Simmons was taken ill soon after the incident at the Tesco Express store

The jury was played CCTV footage from the store's cameras which showed Mr Love and another man leaving the store ahead of Mrs Simmons.

The mother of two then appears to be speaking to them on the street outside.

Afterwards, Mrs Simmons, from Ingleby Barwick, began to feel unwell and told colleagues: "I feel like I'm having a heart attack."

She collapsed less than half an hour later and died that evening at James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough.

Mr Love was questioned by Cleveland Police on suspicion of manslaughter but this was not taken further, the inquest jury heard.

Since Mrs Simmons death, Tesco has employed a security guard at the store and the court heard staff were told not to confront thieves.

The inquest continues.

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