Cancer patient died after choking on meat while celebrating Christmas

March 11, 2020

An elderly Castlefin man died after he choked on a piece of meat at his home during the Christmas holidays.

The inquest of William Doherty heard how he had been drinking heavily after he had been diagnosed with cancer.

Mr Doherty’s nephew Francis Slevin told how he had not seen his 79-year-old uncle for a couple of days.

On December 27th, 2018, he decided to call to his home at Liscooley Villas after he phoned him twice but got no reply.

He called to the home and saw two lights on but could get no answer when he banged on the doors.

He eventually looked in the window and saw two legs on the kitchen floor.

He called his brother Michael who contacted the Gardai and they eventually broke in the door of the house and found Mr Doherty dead.

Garda Rory McGowan told the inquest that there was a pungent smell from inside the house and strong heat came out the front door as the heating system had been left on.

Inside the house, Mr Doherty was found in a pool of blood.

He was black in colour and he had a number of cuts.

Garda McGowan said he found bottles of Brandy and Coca Cola in the house as well as a “vast amount” of tablets.

He also found Mr Doherty’s wallet which contained €1,000 in cash.

A post mortem was carried out at Letterkenny University Hospital showed that Mr Doherty had Stage 2 cancer and that he had been drinking heavily.

Tests showed that he had 348 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood system which meant he was seven times over the drink driving limit.

Critically the post mortem also found that he had a three-centimetre piece of meat stuck in his throat.

Coroner Dr Denis McCauley said Mr Doherty would also have had trouble chewing his food because of the influence of so much alcohol.

Ironically the results of the post mortem also showed that Mr Doherty’s cancer had not increased.

Dr McCauley said death was due to choking and he recorded a finding of death by misadventure.