Inquest hears Blackpool businessman took his own life after suffering mystery illness

A “funny and brilliant” Blackpool businessman took his own life after months of suffering from a mystery illness.

Robert Stevens, 51, died at his Clifton Drive home on May 13 just a few days after being discharged from Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

Blackpool Victoria Hospital

Blackpool Victoria Hospital

He was found on his bed by his friend, David Jones, whom he lived with.

At an inquest at Blackpool Town Hall, coroner Claire Doherty heard how Mr Stevens had been suffering from poor health for around a year.

Despite extensive testing, doctors had been unable to discover the cause of his illness.

On May 9 he was taken by ambulance to Blackpool Victoria Hospital, where he had an MRI and CT scan.

He told his close friend and business partner Terry Ramsden: “I’m dying.”

Mr Ramsden said: “I hadn’t seen him for a little while, being weeks or a couple of months because of commitments, and he looked visibly shocking, gaunt in the face. He had lost probably four stone since I had last seen him.

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“He had tubes in his arms. He had a gown on and he was shuffling along like a very elderly man.”

The inquest heard how Mr Stevens believed he was suffering from Lyme Disease, however, tests for the disease proved inconclusive.

He also feared he was experiencing the early symptoms of MS, which his mother had died from years before.

Mr Ramsden said: “I personally funded more than a dozen different clinics and doctors, all independent from each other, to test him for MS. He had every test known to man, both on the NHS and in private health, and they could not determine what was wrong with him.”

Following his death, Mr Stevens’ friends discovered a wardrobe filled with Chinese herbal remedies they believed he may have been taking to ease his pain.

However, a post-mortem examination showed they did not play a role in his death.

Dr Sameer Shaktawat found the cause of death was suffocation, contributed to by a scar on his heart that had been caused by one or more ‘silent heart attacks’ - symptomless heart attacks he was unaware of.

Recording a verdict of suicide, Coroner Doherty said: “There was evidence that he was very worried about his health. Despite the efforts of his friends, these worries still hung over him, and I think they have played a part on his actions.”

His father, Arthur Stevens, said: “I understand him not wanting to suffer like his mother did, because she did suffer for many years with MS, and towards the end it was very traumatic. I can understand him not wanting to suffer like she did.”

Mr Stevens was the chief executive of international electronic programming company Preventia, and had lived in America and Canada before returning to the UK.

Mr Ramsden said: “He was funny and brilliant. He would make everybody laugh in the pub with his sayings. He was fiercely loyal, a proper guy, and very protective of his friends. He was a West Ham fan through and through.”