Heart disease left jewel robber 'at risk' of death

Oxford's Covered Market

Oxford's Covered Market

First published in Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Council Reporter, also covering Oxford city centre. Call me on 01865 425429

WOULD-BE robber Clint Townsend suffered from severe heart disease and could have died “at any point”, an inquest into his death heard yesterday.

The inquest continued at County Hall yesterday as assistant coroner Alison Thompson attempted to find out how the 33-year-old died.

Mr Townsend, of Barton Road, died in March last year after trying to break into John Gowing Jewellers in Oxford’s Covered Market.

Yesterday Home Office pathologist Dr Ashley Fegan-Earl said that Mr Townsend’s death was caused by brain damage due to prolonged cardiac and respiratory arrest.

This was caused, he said, by a “perfect storm” of Mr Townsend’s coronary heart disease and the fact several people had restrained him to prevent him from escaping.

Dr Fegan-Earl said: “The heart disease was unusually severe for his age. His body mass index [32 – anything above 30 is classed as obese] did indicate that he was overweight and in a medical definition of obese.

“If I was to come across an individual with that amount of heart disease who died in bed I wouldn’t hesitate to give that as the cause of death, assuming there were no extraneous factors.

“It is a perfect storm of restraint coming together with medical factors. It is a quicker death than perhaps one often sees in restraint-like situations and one has to be mindful of the heart disease of unusual severity.”

Mr Townsend was one of two would-be robbers who had come into the Covered Market on a motorbike, the inquest heard. Mr Townsend, who weighed about 18 stone, had attempted to break into the jewellers with a sledgehammer at around 9.15am on March 30, 2013, but was tackled to the ground by several members of the public.

They then restrained him until police arrived at the scene around five minutes later. Several of the officers who attended the scene gave evidence yesterday.

Sergeant Martin Crawley, who drove to the incident from St Aldate’s police station with Pc Rob Mann, said: “On arrival I noticed there were a number of people on and around a prone man on the floor. Believing a robbery had taken place, myself and my colleague took control. We began talking to him but he gave no reply.”

After removing Mr Townsend’s helmet they checked to see if he was breathing. Both told the inquest they believed he was, but called an ambulance.

When it appeared he had stopped breathing, Pc Russell Knapman suggested carrying out CPR which they continued as paramedics arrived at 9.29am. Mr Townsend was taken to the John Radcliffe Hospital where he died the next day.

Ms Thompson will deliver a verdict on the death today.

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