Friend breaks down in tears as he tells of pal’s tragic death on 21st birthday shopping trip to New York

The friend of a newly-diagnosed diabetic who died while on a 21st birthday shopping trip to New York broke down in tears as he spoke of his final days.

Wednesday, 23rd January 2019, 2:12 pm
Updated Wednesday, 23rd January 2019, 2:13 pm
Shaun Dobinson, who died while on a holiday to New York City in 2016.

Matthew Foley, 26, told an inquest how his pal, Shaun Dobinson, had become increasingly poorly during what should have been a dream holiday in 2016.

Shaun, of Porthcawl Road, Washington, had only recently been diagnosed as diabetic, before going on a Stateside trip with Matthew.

Julie and Fred Dobinson attend son Shaun Dobinson's inquest in Sunderland.

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Matthew told the inquest that Shaun had been “like a kid at Christmas” when they arrived in the city, taking to their hotel rooftop to take photos.

However, he said a couple of days into the trip his friend began to complain of being unwell.

He told the inquest, held at Sunderland Coroners Court: “We both just felt he must have eaten something dodgy or it was the heat getting to him.”

However, his condition deteriorated and Matthew said he became pale and started being sick.

Dr Nandu Batt, the GP of Shaun Dobinson, pictured outside Sunderland Coroner's Court.

He said the hotel called a doctor for them who examined Shaun and said he was dehydrated and recommended he was put on a drip, but this would cost $3,500 upfront.

Matthew added: “We just thought we weren’t going to pay that, even though we had insurance, we didn’t have the money to pay upfront.”

So, the pair asked advice about what over-the-counter medication he could take, the doctor told them and said he should go to hospital if he got worse.

Because he wasn’t improving Shaun said he wanted to fly home early, but was told he would have to get a medical certificate to say he was fit to fly.

Matthew said because they were due to fly home the next day anyway, Shaun didn’t want to pay thousands of pounds to go into hopsital and risk being kept in and stuck in New York for even longer.

But he told the hearing: “The night before we were supposed to come home was the worst, he was acting a bit like someone who is drunk, over exaggerating his movements and slurring his words.”

The following morning an ambulance was called and Shaun was taken to hospital for treatment, but sadly died the following day on June 3.

In a statement read to Sunderland Coroner’s Court, Shaun’s mother, Julie Dobinson, who had been in constant touch with her son, said on the day they were due to fly home she rang to see how he was feeling to be told by Matthew an ambulance was there, giving emergency care.

She booked a flight to New York as quickly as possible.

Mrs Dobinson said: “The hospital phoned to say his condition was critical. I asked if they could keep him alive until I got there to see him.”

When she landed at JFK airport there was a car waiting to take her to the hospital, but when she arrived medics had to break the news that Shaun had died.

The inquest had previously heard that Shaun’s GP, Dr Nandu Batt, of Victoria Road Health Centre in Shaun’s hometown, had prescribed the drug Metformin, to lower blood glucose levels, when a test in late April found a high reading, confirming he had a form of diabetes.

Asked about Shaun’s reaction to the diabetes diagnosis, Matthew said: “He was just making a joke about it. I think he was trying to make light of it, he didn’t want to accept it really.”

Det Ch Insp Alan Cairns, of Northumbria Police, told the inquest he wanted to gain more information from New York, but despite numerous requests got little help from the officers there.

He said: “The response was not what I hoped it would have been.”

As a result of the delays, the doctor who attended Shaun at the hotel could not be tracked down to talk to.

A post mortem examination found Shaun died due to diabetic ketoacidosis, which occurs when the body starts to run out of insulin and harmful substances called ketone build up.

It also confirmed he had suffered two cardiac arrests, which had caused swelling of the brain, and he had developed a chest infection.

The inquest will continue tomorrow.