Mum of one-punch death teenager Sam Kirk 'can move on' after inquest verdict
THE mother of a 19-year-old who died following a single punch to his jaw said she feels at "peace" now the inquest into his death has concluded.
Tracy Higginbottom's son, Sam Kirk, hit his head against a wall and fell to the ground after being punched in the face by his foster brother, Kyle Allen.
An inquest heard that there was a delay in calling an ambulance because his companions thought initially he was drunk.
Then when paramedics arrived, they were told he had overdosed on alcohol and antidepressants but not that he had been punched.
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Yesterday, Coroner Dr Robert Hunter recorded a narrative verdict stating Mr Kirk died from fatal head injuries resulting from a single punch and that the delay would not have "materially affected the fatal outcome".
Speaking after the inquest, Mrs Higginbottom, of Mackworth, said: "Obviously we were angry to start with but the inquest has improved that feeling for us and given us a certain amount of peace.
"Doubt is an awful thing. Now we can learn to accept it and we can move on with our lives as this has been two-and-a-half years of waiting.
"I hope others will learn from this and realise what one punch can do. It has ruined our lives."
The inquest at Derby and South Derbyshire Coroners' Court had heard how Mr Kirk had been drinking at a party in Mr Allen's home, in Stanley Street, Derby, and after being sick, was offered to be taken home by Mr Allen.
Mr Allen told the court Mr Kirk was being "threatening" and that he thought Mr Kirk was going to headbutt him when he punched him in the early hours of July 20, 2010.
Mr Kirk initially showed signs of recovery in hospital but a lack of blood supply to part of his brain caused him to suffer a stroke.
He died a week later when his life support was turned off.
A post mortem examination revealed the carotid artery leading through Mr Kirk's neck and into his head had ruptured, causing areas of bleeding, including in his brain.
During the conclusion of the inquest, Dr Hunter described Mr Kirk's death as a tragedy. He said: "It's distressing to everyone who knew him. I feel his death is a death that should never have happened."
In returning his narrative verdict, Dr Hunter said: "Sam Kirk died from fatal head injuries resulting from a single punch to the right side of his jaw.
"At the time there was a deliberate and conscious decision by a number of persons not to inform health care professionals to the true circumstances as to how Mr Kirk's injuries occurred and as a consequence there was a delay in the diagnosis and treatment of these injuries.
"On balance the degree and severity of those injuries were such that any delay would not have materially affected the fatal outcome."
A court case against Mr Allen for the manslaughter of Mr Kirk was dropped after prosecutors said they were unable to prove he had not acted in self-defence.
The tragedy sparked Derby Mayor Lisa Higginbottom, Mr Kirk's step-sister, to launch a "one punch can kill" campaign, supported by the Derby Telegraph.