An elderly dementia sufferer died after he mistakenly used poisonous fabric stain remover granules instead of instant coffee, an inquest has found. John Guttridge, 83, from Hartlepool used the stain remover to make drinks for both himself and his wife Anne, 79.
The couple both fell seriously ill within minutes of ingesting the Vanish gold oxi action powder and were taken to hospital.
Mrs Guttridge, a retired doctor, recovered but her 83-year-old husband died.
Teesside Coroner’s Court heard how the tragedy unfolded on July 15 when Mrs Guttridge went upstairs to order groceries online.
‘He called up to say he was going to make us a coffee,’ said the 79-year-old retired doctor.
When she came back down her husband was coughing and she thought he had choked on a biscuit.
‘I put some washing on and the Persil Bio and Vanish Oxi-Action was on the bench,’ she said.
Mrs Guttridge then took a swig of the coffee and immediately tasted chemicals.
Realising what had happened, she checked the labelling on the box which said to seek medical attention if ingested.
She gave her husband a glass of water and milk and at first it did not seem too serious. But by approximately 12.15pm they were both experiencing severe symptoms.
‘We were both on the toilet one upstairs and one downstairs,’ she said.
Mrs Guttridge called emergency services and both were taken from their Hartlepool home to the University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton.
Mr Guttridge, who had vascular dementia, died the following morning.
His devastated wife said: ‘It was a dreadful experience as I loved Brian very much and I know that love was reciprocated.
‘He was just trying to help. Usually I made the coffee.’
A post-mortem was carried out which concluded Mr Guttridge died of ‘chemical gastritis due to sodium percarbonate and carbonate ingestion.’
Acting senior coroner for Teesside, Claire Bailey, recorded a verdict of misadventure.
She said: ‘I am satisfied Mr Guttridge intended to make the drink however he obviously didn’t intend the outcome.’