Inquest held into death of man whose discovery inside Sunderland house sparked police probe
An inquest has been held into the death of a Sunderland man after the discovery of his body inside a city house led to a police investigation.
John Anthony Summers, of Roker Avenue, was found inside a house in Lumley Street, Millfield, early on the evening of Friday, February 28, last year, with Northumbria Police treating it as an “unexplained” death.
An inquest into the 45-year-old’s death heard four people were arrested as part of inquiries, but no charges were brought.
The hearing, at Sunderland Civic Centre, heard Mr Summers, was involved in potentially two fights or arguments before his death.
He was struck with a coffee cup during one incident, with scratches, abrasions and bruises found on his face and neck and bruises on his forearms.
Medical experts found the injuries did not contribute to his death, but pathologist Dr Nigel Cooper, noted arrhythmia – an abnormal heart rhythm – can occur “during periods of stress, for example, arguing or a fight” adding drugs such as cocaine can also have an impact.
Mr Summers, who was on a number of prescriptions medications, had drunk alcohol and taken crack cocaine before he died.
Tests also found small amounts of methadone, amphetamine, diazepam, Pregabalin, which he was prescribed, and cannabis in his system, which Dr Cooper said could together have a depressive impact on the heart.
Detective Inspector Barry Mcatominey said CCTV at 2.03am established Mr Summers had no visible injuries at that time, while one of the other people in the house said he had been heavily under the influence.
Inquires uncovered audio recordings, with Mr Summers heard asleep in the clips before concerns were raised for him.
Mr Summer’s sister Ashley said they were a “very close family” and said her brother had struggled and drank more following the loss of their dad 11, weeks before his own death.
A solicitor for Mr Summers’ relations said they took no issue with the decision taken by the police, but had concerns about the “potential stress” of the incidents where he was “slapped and struck” and hit with the cup.
After summing up the evidence, assistant coroner David Place concluded Mr Summers died of natural causes, contributed by drugs he had taken.