'Panic attack' behind man's death


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The Independent Online

A man died attempting to climb through a glass panel in his locked bedroom door following a suspected panic attack, an inquest heard today.

Stefano Tardio, 38, from Yate, South Gloucestershire, became wedged in the door after smashing through a six-inch panel and is thought to have suffered an acute cardiac failure, brought on by a long-standing congenital heart disease.

Mr Tardio, who also suffered from schizophrenia and depression, was discovered slumped over the door that led to the kitchen when police were called to his address by his worried family members on November 14 last year.

The inquest at Avon Coroner's Court at Flax Bourton, near Bristol, heard Mr Tardio's heart failure could have been triggered by a restriction of oxygen due to being stuck in the door or an adrenaline surge.

Pc Mark Neil, of Avon and Somerset Police, was called to the first floor flat by Mr Tardio's brother, Antonello.

Unable to gain entry, Pc Neil called for help and along with another officer broke through the front door and immediately noticed a fridge freezer had also been knocked over.

He told the inquest there were no lights on in the property, which was locked from the outside, and all the windows were closed.

When he looked across to his left he said he saw the broken wooden door with Mr Tardio's body bent half way over with his legs covered in dried blood.

He said: "It is only my opinion, but I believe that possibly he had a panic attack while not being able to get out of the bedroom.

"He has kicked through the panel and come out feet first and he has then got stuck in that position."

The policeman said he checked for a pulse but was unable to detect one. Mr Tardio, who was unemployed, was pronounced dead at 7.50pm that evening.

The hearing was told Mr Tardio was born with a hole in his heart and a missing valve and had undergone major cardiac surgery. Later in life he went on to develop schizophrenia and depression.

His health problems had seen him twice detained under the Mental Health Act, but toxicology reports showed he had stopped taking his medication for both his mental health and his heart problems.

Dr Christopher Collins, consultant pathologist at the Bristol Royal Infirmary, conducted the post-mortem examination.

He said he found there were surface lacerations and cuts consistent with broken glass and "severe bruising" over the legs and feet.

"I think one can only speculate that this was the result of some sort of panic," Dr Collins said.

"It is hard to imagine why he would get himself into that narrow gap unless in some sort of panic."

The pathologist said that due to Mr Tardio's heart condition his heart weighed 710g - more than twice the weight of a normal organ for a person of that age.

"Once a heart becomes that large it becomes very unstable," he added.

"We normally say that a heart weighing over 600g is sufficient to cause death."

Dr Collins added he believed the heart failure might have been caused by restricted oxygen due to being stuck in the door or an adrenaline surge.

"I think one can only say that the death was a result of acute cardiac failure because of a congenital heart disease," he said.

Avon Coroner Maria Voisin recorded a verdict of accidental death having heard Mr Tardio was not taking his medication and considering the position in which he was found.

Following the inquest Mr Tardio's brother said he was happy with the verdict.

He added: "It sounds as if he wasn't taking his medication which contributed to his death and the size of his heart explains a lot of things.

"I'm sure that if he had taken his medication he would probably have still been with us."

His devastated father, Vincenzo, added: "He was a very gentle man, he would never cause any problems for anybody, he was a true gentleman."