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Inquest continues into death of Windsor man

An inquest continued on Thursday into the death of a Windsor man who died at his home.

Stephen Appleton, 51, died on April 12, 2018 after a battle with mental health issues and alcoholism, the inquest heard.

Evidence was originally given over a two-day period in February but a verdict was not reached. Reading Coroners Court held a continuation of the case yesterday (Thursday).

New witnesses included healthcare professionals at the Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust - where Mr Appleton underwent treatment for mental health issues.

The inquest heard how a day before his death, he was caught by his partner Sandra Smith testing the strength of a belt.

Bridget Dolan, cross-examining on behalf of Mr Appleton’s family, asked why further exploration and engagement was not carried out by clinicians regarding the situation.

“Within 24 hours of the reported incident, the same thing happened the next day,” Ms Dolan told the court.

“It is potentially a powerful indicator of someone rehearsing a fatal method.”

One witness included Sebastian Burn, service manager in charge of the Berkshire Trusts’ CPE (Common Point of Entry) team at the time of Mr Appleton’s treatment.

He told the inquest “When I reflected on the discussions he had with different workers, he was very reluctant to engage.

“So to be honest, I do not know if he would have engaged, I do not know if it would have changed things or not.

“It was very difficult to assess Mr Appleton and what he was and was not thinking and doing.

“Who is to say the risk would have been reduced or not.’’

When asked if the belt incident was a risk, Mr Burn replied: “It is indicative of a risk being there, yes.”

The inquest also heard extensively from Anne Jeavons, a principal clinical psychologist at the trust.

She was one of two authors of a ‘Serious Incident Review’ report published in October last year looking into Mr Appleton’s death.

Ms Jeavons was quizzed by Ms Dolan over a conversation Mr Appleton had with clinician Igun Abayomi, before the belt incident.

Mr Appleton had been asked if he’d had any thoughts of hurting himself or ending his life, to which he had replied ‘no, but I had at least considered it’.

When asked if he had any current thoughts, the 51-year-old had replied ‘no’.

Ms Dolan asked why further probing was not pursued into this and listed a number of questions which may well have been asked to Mr Appleton.

“All these are questions that could have been asked but Mr Appleton was saying he had no thoughts,” Ms Jeavons told the court.

A verdict was not reached on the day by assistant coroner Miss Alison McCormick. A date has not yet been set for the verdict of how Mr Appleton died.

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