A young dad who collapsed and died after a Doncaster pub assault was a ‘walking timebomb’ because of a rare undiagnosed brain condition, an inquest heard.
Karl Smith, aged 25, did not know his brain contained a cyst which caused it to swell to a fatal size.
The court heard that the blow he received at The Drum pub at Bentley was probably not the cause of his death in August 2012.
Detectives initially launched a murder enquiry after the father-of-one collapsed at his home in Broughton Avenue, Bentley, about two hours after he was knocked out and could not be revived.
Ryan Hopkins was arrested but after receiving a report from a renowned neurological expert which revealed Karl’s brain condition, police dropped the homicide investigation and charged him with a common assault, which he later admitted in court.
Karl, a welder with Cutts waste merchants, told friends at the The Drum he was ‘fine’ after coming round from the punch to his mouth, which knocked him to the floor.
But after walking home he collapsed in the bedroom and paramedics could not save him. His partner, Andrena Lumsden, recalled an episode in June 2012 when he had a severe headache and vomiting which was only relieved when he lay on the bathroom floor.
Home Office pathologist Naomi Carter found no sign of a skull fracture when she carried out the autopsy but found Karl’s brain was acutely swollen.
The brain was examined by Prof Daniel du Plessis, a consultant neuropathologist, who said the sole reason for the swelling was a long-standing colloid cyst which would only be discovered at autopsy or by a brain scan.
“This man would have been at risk of sudden death at any time so it is not possible to be certain traumatic injury caused this. This is a man who was a walking timebomb,” said the Professor.
Assistant Coroner Geoffrey Saul recorded a narrative verdict.