Pair Died Around Time Of Chapman And Sons Butchers Shop Outbreak
Relatives of two people whose deaths were linked to a salmonella outbreak in County Durham are hoping an inquest will provide them with answers nearly three years on.
Sandra Blake and Stewart Graham died around the time Public Health England warned people to throw away any pre-cooked meats and savoury items bought at Chapman and Sons in Blackhall Colliery, County Durham.
Sandra’s husband, Heath, also fell ill on the same day as his wife with similar symptoms but survived.
Tests later confirmed that all three had salmonella.
There were 19 confirmed cases of salmonella and three suspected cases in East Durham and Hartlepool in early 2018, Public Health England said.
Following their deaths, the families of Sandra and Stewart, from Blackhall Colliery and Shotton Colliery respectively, instructed specialist Public Health lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate and secure them answers as to how they died.
An inquest into Sandra’s and Stewart’s deaths is now due to take place this week.
Expert Opinion“Sandra’s and Stewart’s families remain devastated by their deaths, particularly the circumstances surrounding them.
“There has been a great deal of concern in the area connected to the confirmed cases of salmonella. It’s an incredibly dangerous condition, the effects of which should never be downplayed.
“While it’s only right that a thorough investigation was allowed to take place, the last few years and not knowing the full circumstances as to why Sandra and Stewart died has taken a huge toll on their loved ones.
“They now hope that the inquest will provide them with the vital answers they deserve.” Jatinder Paul - Senior Associate Solicitor
In 2018 it was confirmed that Chapman and Sons would permanently close. At the time Public Health England said the decision to close was one taken by the company.
Criminal charges against Chapman and Sons as a business as well as directors, John Paul and Anthony Bertram Chapman, were dropped last year due to problems with sampling of the contaminated products.
A jury inquest is due to start at Teesside Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, 9 December, and is listed for two days.
Find out more about our expertise in supporting people following salmonella at our illness section. Alternatively to speak to an expert contact us or call 0370 1500 100.
Husband and wife Heath and Sandra Blake both began feeling unwell on 11 February, 2018, with symptoms including sickness and diarrhoea.
Over the coming days Sandra was visited at home by a GP. She was admitted to North Tees Hospital on 14 February. She died aged 68 two weeks later.
Following tests it was revealed that the couple, who have two daughters, had salmonella.
Sandra was a retired council-worker and Heath a former mineworker.
Heath, 71, said: “We all continue to miss Sandra and struggle to accept that’s she no longer part of our lives. Not only was she a wonderful wife and my best friend but she was also an amazing mum and grandmother.
“We’ve had to be patient but we hope that the inquest will finally answer all of the concerns our family has.”
Stewart Graham, father of five adult children, was well known in the area having been a former football coach for Sunderland Football Club and coached Steph Houghton who now captains England Ladies Team and Manchester City.
The 66-year-old was found dead at his home in Shotton Colliery, on 21 February, 2018.
His daughter, Paula Conway, 45, said: “When Dad started feeling unwell everyone thought it would pass in a few days and he would start getting back to normal in a week or so. That he didn’t is still a huge shock to us.
“Nothing was ever too much trouble for Dad and he was always happy to help, not only his family but also help many children through his football coaching.
“We know the inquest and listening to the circumstances as to how he died is going to be difficult but we feel it’s something we have to do on his behalf.
“We still have a lot of questions about his death and just hope that the inquest will finally provide us with answers.”