Inquest hears of untimely death of man, 36, at Northampton care home

Northampton County Hall
Northampton County Hall

An inquest has heard of the untimely death of a 36-year-old man who lived in a community rehabilitation care home in Northampton.

Daniel McCrickard passed away on November 29, 2016 in his room at Phoenix House, a 24-hour community rehabilitation service for men and women with complex mental health needs who require monitoring outside the hospital environment.

He had been staying there due to his paranoid schizophrenia, for which he took medication and thus required round-the-clock care.

An initial report into his cause of death by Professor Lucas concluded Mr McCrickard, who was morbidly obese, died of heart and lung failure and an overdose of clozapine, a medication he had been prescribed for his mental health condition.

However, Dr Paul Smith, a forensic toxicologist at the University of Leicester, later recommended an amendment to the cause of death from overdose to toxicity. This was agreed to by Prof Lucas.

Dr Smith explained to the inquest that although 1,987mg/ml of clozapine was found in Mr McCrickard's blood after his death - well above the 500mg dose he was given daily - this was not unusual.

The drug often stores itself in fat tissue in the human body, explained Dr Smith, and after death it returns to the bloodstream, hence the high levels recorded in his pathology report.

“The post-mortem level can be higher than at death because it comes out of the fat tissue and back into the blood. It’s called post-mortem distribution,” Dr Smith said at the inquest.

Dr Smith concluded it was an artificially high amount, and told the inquest high doses can have a toxic or poisonous effect on the lungs and heart.

A nurse from Phoenix House told the inquest that Mr McCrickard had health problems, namely type two diabetes, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, a poor diet and chest problems likely linked to his heavy smoking.

On the night of his death, Mr McCrickard had gone to the shops to buy his dinner, returned to Phoenix House where he showered and changed his clothes, took his clozapine, and asked the staff for some milk - which he often drank.

A nurse noticed Mr McCrickard had spilt milk on the floor of the dining room and observed he was dozing while trying to drink.

The nurse persuaded him to go upstairs to his room, and as he made the trip he appeared to be drifting off to sleep.

After being accompanied to his bedroom Mr McCrickard said “good night” to the nurse, and he was found dead, lying on his back the following morning during Phoenix House staff’s routine morning checks on patients.

Coroner Ann Pember returned a narrative verdict at County Hall meaning the circumstances of death are recorded with a brief conclusion.