Coroner records narrative verdict after Banbury death

Martins Rudzitis NNL-140909-184434001
Martins Rudzitis NNL-140909-184434001

An alcoholic from Banbury who died nearly a month after a serious assault did not die as a result of the incident, an inquest has heard.

Martins Rudzitis, 43, of Harlech Close, died on August 3 2014 and the initial cause of death was bronchopneumonia after suffering an acute-on-chronic subdural haematoma with raised intercranial pressure.

The assault happened in People’s Park 23 days earlier on July 11 and at the inquest at Oxford County Hall yesterday (Thursday), coroner Dan Salter concluded evidence could not prove beyond reasonable doubt that the injuries Mr Rudzitis sustained in the incident directly led to his death.

The court heard that Latvian-born Mr Rudzitis had moved to the country in 2009 and was homeless before renting a room at the property in Harlech Close before his death.

It was heard he had also been dealing with an alcohol problem for about 15 years and Dr Safa Al-Sarraj, consultant neuropathologist, said during his examination he found the subdural haematoma in addition to an older bleed that hadstarted to heal itself.

He added that Mr Rudzitis’ chronic alcoholism may have also contributed to other head injuries he had sustained before his death.

Philip Austin was the landlord of the property in Harlech Close and said Mr Rudzitis was a private and independent person who didn’t speak good English and had a bad drinking problem.

Mr Austin added that he would often hear Mr Rudzitis falling over in this room when he had been drinking, and he once suffered a cut to the base of his head after a fall.

Speaking at the inquest, Dr Nicholas Hunt, consultant forensic pathologist, said he was unable to say whether the injuries from the assault would have caused his death, but agreed that Mr Rudzitis’ lifestyle of drinking meant he could have suffered minor injuries as a result of a fall which made him more vulnerable.

Dr Hunt said: “If somebody has got a similar drinking problem, it can impair their breathing and make them more vulnerable to developing a chest infection. I cannot say for certain that the assault caused the injuries that led to his death.”

Also speaking at the hearing was Detective Sergeant Ali Driver of Thames Valley Police, who said there was a substantial investigation into the assault where officers were initially investigating a potential murder.

But while DS Driver said there were ongoing charges being brought up for the assault, he told the court a Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) report suggested there was not enough evidence to be beyond reasonable doubt that the injuries sustained in the assault resulted in Mr Rudzitis’ death.

Recording a narrative verdict, Mr Salter said: “Mr Rudzitis was an alcoholic and homeless on July 11 2014 when he was in People’s Park and subject to a serious assault by two men, which included blows to the head resulting in facial injuries and which were also capable of causing a bleed on the brain.

“He was found dead in bed at an address in Banbury and on the balance of probability, the assault was capable of contributing to his death, particulary in the absence of any other new trauma.”