Hornchurch Christmas dinner death: Husband speaks of wife’s final hours

Della Callagher died two days after eating at the Railway Hotel. The cause of death is still being i

Della Callagher died two days after eating at the Railway Hotel. The cause of death is still being investigated - Credit: Archant

Doctors who discharged a woman suffering from food poisoning a day before her death believed she would recover, an inquest has heard.

The inquest into the death of a 46-year-old Della Callagher, who died two days after eating a Christmas dinner at The Railway hotel, Hornchurch, in 2012, opened at Walthamstow Coroner’s Court this morning and is expected to last three days.

The inquest heard that Mrs Callagher had diarrhoea and vomiting for more than 14 hours after she ate a turkey dinner from the Christmas menu of The Railway hotel, Station Lane.

John Callagher, who described his wife as “healthy”, told the court she had called her mother at 4.15am on Boxing Day suffering with stomach pains and being “violently sick with diarrhoea”.

He explained he was also being sick with what he believed was food poisoning as were about seven members of the family, but Mrs Callagher’s symptoms were the most severe.

At 12.42pm on Boxing Day, the family called for an ambulance as Mrs Callagher was “lifeless” and lying across the bed, hardly talking.

On arrival at Queen’s Hospital, Rom Valley Way, Romford, Mrs Callagher was examined in the back of the ambulance by Akin Idowu, consultant in emergency medicine for Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust (BHRUT) and the lead clinician for urgent care emergency access.

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At the time, Queen’s Hospital was reluctant to have patients with diarrhoea or vomiting in the A&E department because of the risk of the spread of infection.

Mr Idowu said there were “no red flags” or indicators that led him to believe Mrs Callagher would not get better within 48 hours and he discharged her home.

But at 4.30pm, Mrs Callagher stopped breathing and an ambulance was called for a second time.

She died at Queen’s Hospital on the morning of December 27.

The Railway hotel’s chef Mehmet Kaya and manager Ann-Marie McSweeney were jailed last January for perverting the course of justice. The pair had fabricated food safety records.

The inquest continues.