Mystery after 'fit and well' retired police officer dies suddenly in West Sussex

Centenary House, Crawley
Centenary House, Crawley

A family have been left wanting answers after the sudden death of a retired police officer.

Stewart McGregor, 58, was found dead at his home in Handcross Road, Staplefield, Haywards Heath, on October 14, 2018, after failing to meet his mum and sister for lunch as planned, an inquest heard on Tuesday (March 12).

Mr McGregor, a divorced, retired police officer, served on the police mounted branch and was in the drug surveillance team in South London, according to a family statement, read out by coroner's officer Geoff Charnock.

The family said he was 'generally fit and well', with no health concerns other than a gum infection, for which he had dental implants.

The statement read: "Stewart had planned to meet his mum and sister for lunch, on October 14, 2018.

"He appeared to be mostly well but told his sister over the phone that he had a heavy cold which got worse throughout the day and he probably wouldn’t be able to make it to lunch.

"He never turned up to lunch so his sister went round his house and let herself in to check on him. She found him face down and unresponsive on the sofa."

See also: Burgess Hill man who died after arrest was ‘screaming in pain’ when restrained

Mr McGregor was pronounced dead at the scene and 'no suspicious circumstances' were reported.

"They couldn’t find a cause of death, so it was deemed unascertained," assistant coroner Joanne Andrews said.

"No drugs were detected and the death was due to natural causes."

Mr McGregor's sister Linda was present at Crawley Cornoner's Court and she said she found it 'hard to understand why no one knows the cause of death'.

She added: "We just want to know how my brother died.

"I have been reading up about it and gum disease could be a sign of sepsis.

“There is quite a lot of news about sepsis at the moment. I’ve read in a newspaper article that sepsis can contain a certain protein in the blood. I want to know if that protein was detected in my brother.”

Ms Andrews said there was no detection of sepsis and told Ms McGregor that 'sometimes there are circumstances where we can not establish the cause of death'.

She added: "It’s not uncommon. It’s not for not wanting to find out.”

However, the assistant coroner adjourned the hearing so that a pathologist can investigate if the protein Ms McGregor mentioned was evident in her brother.

"We can come back at a another date after we have discovered that information," she said.

"I will look to get an answer from the pathologist."

See also: Death of West Sussex woman murdered by her partner was 'avoidable' says family