A MAN who died in his home from hypothermia could have been saved if he hadn’t been neglected by friends, a coroner concluded.
Andrew Forrest, 49, was found dead by three friends who were concerned they hadn’t heard from him.
Coroner James Newman, sitting in Preston, said Andrew, of Florence Street, Burnley, died from hypothermia after being left by two friends in a ‘confused, vacant’ state in a cold house which was overflowing with water.
He added that if they had sought help for him, it would be likely he would be alive today and said that despite Andrew dying of natural causes from hypothermia, negligence played a part.
Speaking after the inquest, Andrew’s sister, Andrea Forrest, gave a tribute to her brother on behalf of herself, her partner, John Edwards and their two daughters, Natalie and Sophie.
She said: “He was an amazing brother, uncle and a loving son.
“He was a social butterfly. He is missed by his family and friends and community that supported him.”
Andrew’s son, Aiden, and daughter, Nadia, both gave tributes to their dad, describing the grandad-of-three as someone who would do anything for anyone.
Aiden said: “He was a loveable guy, he loved his kids and all three of his grandchildren.”
While Nadia added: “He was amazing. He would do anything for anyone.
“He was a big Burnley FC fan and loved going to home and away matches.”
On the afternoon of March 19, 2019, Dwayne Shaw, James Cameron and Kyle Wood went round to Andrew’s to check on him after having not heard from him for some time. After getting no reply when knocking on the door, they found the door unlocked which they said was very unusual.
The trio walked into a house of ‘disarray’ with drawers turned out, bags on the sofa and water flooding downstairs into the back room.
Upstairs they found Andrew wedged between the toilet and bathroom wall having passed away.
Andrew, a plasterer, was last seen on March 17 when two acquaintances, Shaun Ross and Carla Clarke, who the coroner said live a ‘different lifestyle’, had visited him just before 4pm.
CCTV showed the pair in the house for about 40 minutes before leaving, Shaun carrying a plastic bag.
Footage also captured Carla, who did not attend the inquest as she was untraceable by authorities, visiting the house twice more.
Shaun told the inquest that it had been Carla’s idea to check on Andrew and when they arrived there was water running into the back room and that there was obvious damage to the house.
He then claims that Carla went to check upstairs and, after following her, Carla found Andrew who Shaun said was ‘slumped and holding himself’.
He said that Andrew was staring at him in a ‘weird way’ and was not speaking.
Shaun then said that Carla went to get Andrew a ‘can’ from the shop and returned some minutes later. However there was no CCTV evidence to support this claim.
Shaun continued to say he then left the house feeling as if Andrew and Carla didn’t want him there.
Despite the ‘dependant’ state Andrew was in, neither called for any medical help, with Shaun adding: “At the time I didn’t think anything about it but after I did.”
Mr Newman said: “He sits here in hindsight thinking there should have been some medical assistance sought.
“Mr Ross very clearly said that he regrets that but that doesn’t change the picture.”
Detective Chief Inspector Gareth Willis said that Carla and Shaun’s statements did not match and that the CCTV footage also captured a differing timeline of events.
Forensic pathologist Professor Phillip Lumb said that Andrew was found with a bump on his head, scratches and grazes, bruises and a cut lip, however these did not appear to be linked to his cause of death or show any evidence of an assault.
When investigating further, he discovered that Andrew had suffered a bleed on the brain and some broken ribs. However, again, it was concluded that these were not significant enough to cause his death and did not appear to have come from an assault.
Toxicology tests on Andrew, who had a substance abuse problem, found several drugs in his system, including cocaine and cannabis, however these were not at life-threatening levels.
Prof Lumb said that in his stomach he found gastric ulcers, a common symptom of hypothermia. He continued to say that Andrew’s home was very cold and he had wet feet. This, along with his low weight - just over seven stones - and alcohol dependence were all contributing factors which could have led to hypothermia.
He said that Andrew was ‘underdressed’ in shorts and a T-shirt given the coldness of the house. Professor Lumb concluded: “The most plausible explanation for his cause of death is hypothermia.”