Coroner rules Henfield great-grandmother’s death was accidental

Centenary House in Durrington
Centenary House in Durrington

A well-loved great-grandmother died after falling to the ground after enjoying a church coffee morning with a friend.

Johanna Moulds, 79, of Maidment Court, Henfield, was walking behind a car in the High Street attempting to cross the road when she fell, fractured her hip and was taken to hospital.

Four days after her hip operation Mrs Moulds returned home, but was readmitted to hospital after becoming seriously ill.

An inquest into her death was held at Centenary House in Worthing on August 5.

Julie Hills, Mrs Mould’s daughter, paid tribute to her mother. “She was a very honest person, a very good Christian. She always tried to keep fit. She said life was so precious and her family was so precious to her.”

Dr David Skipp, deputy coroner for West Sussex, said he found it ‘very hard’ to ‘disentangle’ exactly what occurred in Henfield on January. He said: “What I do know is that whether the car moved or Mrs Moulds stumbled she fell to the ground sustaining a fracture to her left femur.”

James Wing, who was reversing the black car, said he was alerted to a woman in the road – Mrs Moulds’ friend – who was ‘gesticulating’.

Mr Wing said: “I didn’t feel any resistance or any feeling that I had hit something. I had only reversed one or two feet at most I guess.”

The court heard Mr Wing, who stressed he was not a ‘medical person’ got out of the car, was told by he had not hit Mrs Moulds, went to find a chair for her to sit on from the church and left the scene.

Connie Jupp, who was with Mrs Moulds at the time of the accident said she was walking behind her friend who had ‘not tripped’ as there was nothing for her to fall over.

Colin O’Neill, senior forensic police investigator, said Mrs Moulds may not have been seen by Mr Wing.

He added: “Both drivers and pedestrians have a duty to do checks.

“By the time the vehicle was looked at by police, the vehicle had moved onto another owner. Witness evidence is going to be varied, it is all about perception.

“A lack of evidence is not evidence of something not happening.

Mrs Moulds died in hospital on March 2. A postmortem report found Mrs Moulds died of bronchopneumonia, which occurred following her immobility after she fell.

Dr Patrick Carr, consultant at Worthing hospital, said Mrs Moulds deteriorated very rapidly before her death.

“She was okay an hour before and then one hour later she was very ill. All I can assume is that the infection became very virulent and very rapid.”

Dr Carr also apologised for the communication at the hospital after Mrs Moulds family questioned why medical staff ‘didn’t do anything for that infection in her chest’.

Returning a conclusion of accidental death, Dr Skipp said: “I know that the facts do indicate that the chain of events occurred and were set in motion following the fracture of that hip.

“My conclusion is that if it hadn’t have been for the fracture then that chain of events would not have occurred so I’m going to record an accidental death.”

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