'We all thought Sam was drunk rather than seriously hurt'
A TEENAGER who died a week after being punched in the face by his foster brother appeared to have a fit after being hit, an inquest heard.
Sam Kirk, 19, was hit by Kyle Allen, following an argument in the early hours of July 20, 2010, Derby Coroner's Court was told.
After being hit, Mr Kirk hit his head against a wall and then fell to the ground.
But it was another 25 to 30 minutes before an ambulance was called because his companions thought initially that he was simply drunk, the hearing was told.
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Mr Kirk – a labourer and a keen skateboarder – died at Nottingham's Queen's Medical Centre due to "complications" related to his injuries.
The inquest heard Mr Kirk had been drinking at Mr Allen's home in Stanley Street, Derby, in the hours leading up to the argument.
Mr Allen's girlfriend at the time, Ashleigh Edwards, told the hearing that Mr Allen and another friend, Luke Henchcliffe, had offered to walk Mr Kirk home.
But she said Mr Kirk was "trying to start a fight". In a statement she made shortly after the incident – read out by coroner Dr Robert Hunter – she said: "Suddenly, I saw Kyle's arm come backwards and Kyle punch Sam."
Asked what happened next, she said: "Sam was lying on the floor and, it's hard to explain, but he was kind of having a fit."
Dr Hunter also asked her if she had thought to call an ambulance at that point. She said no, adding: "We just thought he was drunk. We didn't think there was anything seriously wrong."
The inquest was told Mr Allen and Mr Henchcliffe tried to carry Sam back to his home in nearby Handford Street but accidentally dropped him from a height of 4ft, which could have caused him to hit his head again.
The pair eventually called an ambulance and paramedics arrived to find Sam in an "agitated" state, which led him to bang his head on the floor in "frustration".
Forensic pathologist Professor Guy Rutty ruled out the 4ft drop or Mr Kirk's deliberate head-banging as factors in his death.
Prof Rutty said 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.
The court was told that, although Mr Kirk showed signs recovery in hospital, a lack of blood supply to part of his brain caused him to suffer a stroke. Doctors said he would never recover and a decision was made to turn off his life-support machine.
The inquest continues.