Inquest criticises Navy over officer death

The Royal Navy was criticised by an inquest jury yesterday over the death of a female officer who was left lying in a coma on the floor of her cabin by shipmates who thought she was drunk.

Lt Emma Douglas, 29, of Aberdeenshire, suffered from diabetes, though it was not diagnosed until after she was found dead on HMS Cornwall at the Devonport base in Plymouth in 2004. She had collapsed on the floor half-naked before being spotted by an officer who shut her cabin door and left her, the inquest heard.

The Navy was criticised for not spotting the diabetes symptoms, which included weight loss of four stones and repeated vomiting. Four days before her death Lt Douglas had consulted with Surgeon Commander Marcus Evershed at the shore base HMS Drake Medical Centre in Plymouth, where she was diagnosed with oral thrush and offered sick bay rest, which she declined.

The jury said that Lt Douglas's death could have been avoided. Her parents said they will now sue the Ministry of Defence.

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