Dalek designer starved to death

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Indy Lifestyle Online
A special effects engineer who achieved worldwide fame for designing the Dalek in the popular children's television series Dr Who collapsed dead after months of starving himself, an inquest heard yesterday.

Oxford-educated Denis Ryan, 53, a former Royal Navy officer, gradually cut himself off from the outside world after being made redundant from the BBC in 1982.

The Southwark inquest was told he allowed himself to waste away, refusing to eat properly, wash or get out of bed. He was admitted to Greenwich hospital against his wishes, but died from a heart attack the next day - 26 January. A post-mortem examination revealed he had suffered from severe heart disease, exacerbated by malnutrition.

The coroner, Sir Montague Levine, recorded a verdict of natural causes after hearing Mr Ryan could have had a heart attack at any time. He said: 'This is a terribly sad case. Mr Ryan was particulary proud that he had designed the Dalek which was a very popular creation with children. But when his job came to an end his life dramatically changed. From being a resourceful and imaginative engineer with the BBC with lots of life, he became a recluse andstarted to shut himself off from the world.'

Sir Montague said a 'whole host of people' had come to Mr Ryan's aid. He commended doctors for admitting him to hospital despite the patient's strong protests.

Colin Harrison, a social worker, said divorced Mr Ryan began to withdraw from the world after losing his job and splitting up with a girlfriend.

During the past five years, he rarely ventured from his flat in Francis Street, Lee, south-east London, which he shared with his frail 89-year-old

mother. Despite his deteriorating condition, he refused to be examined by his doctor, or be admitted to hospital.