December 13 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
A pensioner apologised for being a “nuisance” as an ambulance took him to hospital, where he died in “suspicious” circumstances.
James May, 76, had been playing bowls at Hemsby Village Hall when he collapsed with a suspected heart attack.
The retired driving instructor, from the South Denes area of Great Yarmouth, had finished his game and club members were packing up when he was taken ill at around 9.30pm on September 19.
He died in the early hours of September 20 at the James Paget University Hospital (JPH) in Gorleston, and police have since launched a murder probe – investigating whether a drugs overdose was given at the hospital.
Terry Nash, chairman of Hemsby Short-Mat Bowls Club, was with Mr May when he collapsed.
“He just blacked out,” he recalled. “At that point nobody knew what was wrong.
“He was on the floor and we were waiting for the paramedics to arrive.
“He was conscious when he left the hall. He made a comment that he was sorry to be a nuisance, and it was only at the hospital he had all the problems, which was rather sad.”
He said two club members are retired nurses and they helped keep Mr May comfortable until paramedics arrived, with a 999 operator giving them instructions over speaker-phone.
"Jimmy...was always happy and very highly thought of and will be greatly missed by all his friends and family."
And when the ambulance arrived Mr May – a club member for almost 15 years – was able to climb on to the stretcher before he was wheeled into the ambulance.
Mr Nash said Mr May had a funny turn earlier in the evening, but had been fine after the tea and biscuit break.
And they did not think they had cause for concern once the ambulance arrived.
“All I thought was that he was just going in, they would check him out and then he would be back home,” added Mr Nash. “So when they rang up the next morning and said he had passed away it was a shattering blow.
“I always got on well with him, so it really was sad.
“It’s bad enough knowing he passed away, and all this makes things worse.
“You start wondering ‘what if’.”
A middle-aged man who works at the hospital has been arrested on suspicion of murder and bailed until an unspecified date in November.
Senior investigating officer detective chief inspector Paul Durham said 30 officers are investigating “a number of lines of inquiry”.
He said inquiries centre on the people who supplied them with the “most significant potential evidence”.
But Mr May has yet to be buried or cremated, and toxicology results are awaited, with further tests possible.
“It was referred to us as medical malpractice,” added DCI Durham. “Our preliminary inquiries led me to believe we should treat this as a suspicious death.
“Murder is one possibility. I’ve got to keep an entirely open mind.
“Our inquiries are continuing and this investigation is a priority for us.
“This is a complex investigation and some of our lines of inquiry are going to take weeks to resolve.
“The whole circumstances are complex. We want to do it as quickly as we can in terms of what is reasonable.”
Mr May’s nephew, Kevin May, 28, from near Portsmouth, has released a tribute to his uncle.
It reads: “Following the sad loss of my Uncle James “Jimmy” May, we – the family – were further saddened to discover that there are suspicions surrounding his death.
“Jimmy was a wonderful uncle to me and, although we lived many miles apart, we regularly kept in touch by Skype because he loved to see how my baby girl was growing up.
“Jimmy was a sociable man and loved his bowling and going out on his boat – his death came as a big surprise. He was always happy and very highly thought of and will be greatly missed by all his friends and family.
“We are being kept fully informed on the investigation by our police family liaison officers and ask that all the family can be left alone at this sorry time so we can grieve the loss of a wonderful man and deal with the situation.”
Anyone with any concerns or who may wish to speak to an officer with information in relation to the inquiry can contact the Major Investigation Team on 01953 424533 or 424528. The lines will be open between 9am and 5pm and all calls will be treated in the strictest confidence.