• Tue. May 21st, 2024

Inquest told of ‘hard-working family man’ found dead at home


Sep 14, 2022

A ‘hard-working family man who would do anything’ for others was found dead at home.

Peter Harvatt was found on his bed in his flat in Broadway, Didcot, on January 21 this year.

Oxford Coroner’s Court heard that the 36-year-old had last been seen clocking out of work at 6am on Tuesday, January 18, three days before his body was discovered.

READ MORE: What happens at an inquest?

The warehouse worker had gone to his doctor a week earlier complaining of acute neck pain, after straining his neck while moving a washing machine at his former partner’s home.

He was prescribed various pain relief medication and had recovered sufficiently to go out to see friends in the weekend before his death.

A post-mortem was carried out by Dr Eve Fryer of the John Radcliffe Hospital but she was unable to ascertain his cause of death remained unascertained, as Mr Harvatt’s body had begun to decompose.

Giving evidence to the inquest via video link, the pathologist suggested that sudden death in an otherwise healthy young man, as Mr Harvatt had been, may be a result of Sudden Adult Death Syndrome – usually the result of an ‘abnormal heart rhythm’.

However, in order to give SADS as the cause of death, Dr Fryer said she would ‘really needed to have adequately excluded other possibilities’.

Those other possible causes of death might have included encephalitis and ‘particularly meningitis’. Both conditions involve the swelling of the brain.

In a statement read to the inquest, Mr Harvatt’s former partner and the mother of his child, Leisha Kane, said she had last seen him on Monday, January 20, before he left to go to work. “He was fitting a curtain rail for me and speaking to his mother on FaceTime,” she said.

“Over the next few days I did not hear from Pete, which was highly unusual,” Ms Kane added, describing him as her ‘best friend’.

She went to his flat on Friday, January 21. “The last thing on my mind was whether he was okay, as he was a fit and healthy man.”

Ms Kane saw her ex-partner’s neighbour, who said he had not seen Mr Harvatt since Monday and noted his windows had, unusually, been kept shut. She rang his landlord, who gave permission to try and knock-down the front door, then called the police when she was unable to get past the door.

Paying tribute to her former partner, she said: “He was a hard-working family man who would do anything for us.”

Senior coroner Darren Salter recorded an open conclusion. He expressed his own condolences to Mr Harvatt’s family.

For support, contact the Samaritans on 116 123 or visit samaritans.org.

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This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire's court and crime reporter.

To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @t_seaward