Scuffle with ex-partner's new man caused death of Derbyshire dad-of-two Mark Gaunt, inquest rules
A FATHER of two's death from a heart attack was caused by a dance-floor scuffle over a woman, an inquest ruled.
Mark Gaunt died after a night out in the Crib Bar in Church Street, Ripley, on October 14, 2011.
The inquest was told that the 48-year-old had a scuffle with Darren Matheson, who was dating Mr Gaunt's ex-partner, Donna Hopkinson.
Mr Matheson told the inquest Mr Gaunt had been "giving him the eye". He told him to stop and added: "Forget it, you're not getting back with Donna."
Mr Matheson said: "I walked away and he shouted me back and said he wanted to go outside and have a fight. I said no. He went for me, he took a swing for me so I went back for him."
Charlotte Musgrave, who had known Mr Gaunt for more than 10 years, was with him on the night he died.
She told the court Mr Gaunt – whose full name was James Mark Gaunt – had not seemed unwell and they were having a good night.
She said: "We were chatting around the edge of the dance floor and, all of a sudden, there was a scuffle.
"I saw Mark and the other man standing face to face. It looked like there was tension and something was brewing.
"They both grabbed each other. Mark pushed him back against a wall. They were wrestling on the floor. The whole thing lasted for at least four minutes."
The pair were separated by assistant bar manager Christopher Fowkes, who took Mr Matheson to one corner of the dance floor as Mr Gaunt went outside.
Mr Fowkes said: "I went outside where Mr Gaunt was lying with his head against the gate. He looked clammy and wasn't responsive."
Paramedics were called and Mr Fowkes and other witnesses put Mr Gaunt, of The Gardens, Loscoe, into the recovery position.
Despite efforts to resuscitate him, Mr Gaunt was pronounced dead at King's Mill Hospital in Sutton-in-Ashfield.
Mr Matheson, of Wright Street in Codnor, was arrested in relation to the incident but no charges were brought against him.
The inquest was told Mr Gaunt died of a heart attack and pathologist Professor Guy Rutty said a post-mortem examination revealed Mr Gaunt had coronary heart disease and could have "dropped dead at any time".
Coroner Dr Robert Hunter recorded a verdict of death by misadventure and said: "I have no doubt in my mind that there is a direct causal link between the altercation and Mr Gaunt's death."
Following the inquest at Derby and South Derbyshire Coroner's Court, Mr Gaunt's ex-wife, Debra Witton, said the verdict would bring some closure to the couple's 18-year-old twins, Paul and Carrie-Ann Gaunt.
She said: "The children were 10 when Mark left but they still saw each other. They can move on now, they lost such a lot after Mark died."
Mr Gaunt's brother, Michael, said he had hoped for a verdict of misadventure.
He said: "I personally can't see any alternative to a verdict of misadventure.
"It's good to have it over with. It's been a long time between the event and the inquest. As they say, it gives closure."