Pair Died Around Time Of Chapman And Sons Butchers Shop Warning
The families of two people whose deaths were linked to a salmonella outbreak in Durham have spoken for the first time about their loss.
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. The team have represented thousands of people who have suffered illness after eating at restaurants or hotels such as a group action claim for victims of a salmonella outbreak at the Real China restaurant in Eastleigh in 2014.
The families have now spoken of their hope that the start of an inquest process will provide them with answers.
Expert Opinion“Sandra’s and Stewart’s deaths have had a profound effect on the families, and more than 18 months on they remain heart-broken at their loss.
Salmonella is extremely dangerous and can lead to long-term health problems from which people may not recover and in the worst cases, such as this one, can even lead to death. There has been a great deal of concern in the area following the cases confirmed by Public Health England.
Understandably Sandra’s and Stewart’s families have a number of concerns about how they fell ill. We are determined to provide them with the answers they deserve. The start of the inquest process is major milestone in being able to help the families.
We will continue to support both families throughout the process. If during the course of our investigations any issues are identified it is vital that lessons are learned.”
Jatinder Paul - Senior Associate Solicitor
A pre-inquest review hearing into the pair’s deaths is due to take place at Teesside Coroner’s Court at Middlesbrough Town Hall on Tuesday, 17 December.
A date for a full inquest will also be fixed for a later date.
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 earlier this year due to problems with sampling of the contaminated products.
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: “Sandra was such a wonderful wife, mum and grandmother. She was my best friend and we all still can’t believe she is no longer with us.
“It may be almost 2 years on from her death but we still miss her terribly. What makes it harder is not knowing the full picture as to why she died. While time may have moved on our family hasn’t because of this.
“We know nothing can ever bring Sandra back but we just want to find out what caused her death and whether anything could have been done to prevent it.”
Stewart Graham, father of 5 adult children, was well known in the area having been a former football coach for Sunderland Football Club and even 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, 44, said: “We were so proud of Dad and how he always went out of his way to help others and improve them. He spent years as a coach helping to nurture hundreds of players
“When Dad starting complaining he was unwell we could tell he was a bit under the weather but we never thought that a few days later he would die.
“We still shocked about what has happened and how quickly his condition deteriorated. Dad was the bedrock of our family and was the one we all turned to for help and advice. He has left a huge hole in all our lives.
“Our family have so many questions about his death. We just want to honour Dad’s memory by establishing what happened.”
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