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Saturday, 23 August 2014

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Woman's death after assault was due to natural causes - inquest

A coroner has ruled that the death of a woman days after being assaulted was due to natural causes.

Emma Lucy Hodgson, 32, died at her sister’s home in Warwick Bridge, near Carlisle, after her spleen ruptured.

An inquest heard she had travelled up from Manchester a few days earlier to see her sister.

She had seemed in high spirits but began to feel unwell on the afternoon of December 17, 2012. She complained of stomach pain and then went to bed, saying she felt sick.

Later that evening Emma’s sister Lynda Dixon found her cold and unresponsive and called an ambulance, but paramedics could not save her.

The inquest heard that Emma had been assaulted less than a week beforehand, resulting in her having two broken ribs.

At the original inquest in December 2013, the family questioned Detective Inspector Furzana Nazir, who said police would not be investigating the incident due to the post mortem findings.

Her family suggested the injuries may have led to her death, and so the hearing was halted to allow them to further question the pathologist Dr Alison Armour.

She confirmed at the inquest that Emma had been assaulted, but said she died as a result of glandular fever and not the injuries suffered in the attack.

Dr Armour said: “There’s no doubt in my mind that this lady had been the victim of an assault.

“In my view these fractures were consistent with being caused by assault. However, they played no part in the fatal outcome.

“Glandular fever has led to a spontaneous rupture of the spleen.”

She added that if the assault had caused the spleen rupture, it would have happened within 24 hours of the attack.

The fact that it took more than five days to occur ruled out this possibility.

Lynda Dixon told Carlisle coroner David Roberts: “I am not happy with this situation at all and I never will be. I find it very hard to believe what Dr Armour is saying to me. She wasn’t ill.”

Recording a verdict of death by natural causes, Dr Roberts said: “It's an utter tragedy and I can only sympathise with the family's sentiments in respect of the loss of Emma.

"The question is whether it is possible that she sustained an injury to the spleen at that time that remained dormant for five days. It's clear that this is a natural rupture due to glandular fever, but that does not take away from the fact that she received injuries to her body that are not natural.”

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