Inquest opened into death of Exning army veteran, 86

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An inquest has been opened into the death of an elderly man from Exning who died after being attacked with a bottle by a dementia patient.

Richard Bowman, 86, was found in a pool of blood with severe head, leg and arm injuries after the attack at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.

The army veteran’s family said he had a skin graft and was told by doctors he would never walk again.

He died on December 7 and his family claimed his death came as a result of the attack.

But a post-mortem concluded last month that Mr Bowman had died due to natural causes unrelated to the incident 12 days earlier.

An inquest into his death was opened at the Active Business Centre in Bury St Edmunds on Friday morning where his cause of death was confirmed.

Coroner for the District of Suffolk, Dr Peter Dean said: “Our thoughts are with the family and those close to him at this time.

“This report was referred by PC Blackburn following Mr Bowman’s death at West Suffolk Hospital on December 8 2013.

“On December 9 a post-mortem was done by Dr Nathaniel Cary at West Suffolk hospital.

“He identified the cause of death as 1a. Bronchopneumonia 1b. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and 1c. Cardiac failure.”

Mr Bowman, a retired businessman who served with the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, had been admitted to the NHS ward on November 25 with a chest infection.

He had been in and out of hospital over the past few years with repeated chest infections but each time he recovered quickly and was discharged.

After his death, the veteran’s family claimed he should never have been left alone with his attacker, who is also thought to have bipolar disorder.

Suffolk Police said on Friday they are not treating the death as suspicious.

A spokesman added: “This matter will now be dealt with by the Coroner.

“Officers continue to investigate reports of an assault against the deceased man at the hospital on November 25, 2013.”