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Home   Canterbury   News   Article

Family's shock at death of Canterbury dad Robert Wellstead found seriously injured in street in Wincheap

12 December 2013
by Alex Claridge

Father Robert Wellstead died in hospital

Father Robert Wellstead died in hospital

A man found unconscious in a Canterbury street with head injuries died of natural causes, a post mortem has revealed.

Robert Wellstead's family made the heartbreaking decision to turn off his life support machine in hospital, where he was in a medically-induced coma having suffered brain damage.

A post-mortem examination was carried out earlier today  - over a week after the 56-year-old was found seriously injured outside his home in Oxford Road, Wincheap.

It revealed Mr Wellstead died of natural causes, and police are not treating the death as suspicious.

They have now forwarded their report to the coroner.

Mr Wellstead - known to many in his lifelong home of Canterbury as Bob - was found outside the house where he lived and cared for his bed-ridden disabled mother at just before 1am last Wednesday.

It is unclear why he was outside in the middle of the night.

His sister Shirley Wilkie, who lives in nearby South Canterbury Road, said: "Robert was the most amazing carer for mum, even if he couldn't take a compliment for it.

"He even came up to my house on Tuesday night and said to me 'If I ever get like your mum, just shoot me'.

"We made the decision that turning off the life support machine was the right thing to do for Robert.

"I had steeled myself for the inevitable, but even when the inevitable comes it's a waste of life.

“We are just devastated. We can't believe it's true."

Robert Wellstead was found in Oxford Road with serious head injuries

Robert Wellstead was found in Oxford Road with serious head injuries

What is known of the hours before his death is that Mr Wellstead had been in the Run of the Mill pub in Sturry Road late on Tuesday and had returned to Wincheap in a taxi, which dropped him off at around midnight.

An hour later, some girls walking along Oxford Road stumbled across what they mistook to be a bag – until they realised it was Mr Wellstead, whom they recognised.

"I had steeled myself for the inevitable, but even when the inevitable comes it's a waste of life. We are just devastated. We can't believe it's true..." - sister Shirley Wilkie

He was lying with his head on the road and his feet on the pavement.

A passing taxi stopped to help and called the emergency services. Mr Wellstead had apparently stopped breathing and paramedics performed CPR on him for almost 45 minutes.

He was taken to an air ambulance, which had landed at Victoria Rec and then flown to King's College Hospital.

Shirley, 59, was phoned by one of her sisters and they were soon at Mr Wellstead's bedside in south London.

"When I saw him he had two black eyes and a cut on his head," she said. "We also know that he had some cracked ribs and a punctured lung, but they might have been from the extensive CPR.

"They also told us there was damage to the brain and a lot of swelling.

"The doctors put him in a sedated coma in order for the swelling to go down. But when they reduced the sedation, there was not much of an improvement.

"We knew then that if he lived, he would have severe brain damage and could have been in hospital for months."

Shortly before he was found seriously injured, Robert Wellstead had been at the Run of the Mill pub

Shortly before he was found seriously injured, Robert Wellstead had been at the Run of the Mill pub

Mr Wellstead, who was the youngest of 10 siblings, remained sedated over the weekend and on Monday the family made the decision to switch the life support machine off. He died at just after 8pm.

His family said their grief has not been helped by fervent speculation around Canterbury about what happened to him.

Messages even appeared on social networking website Facebook mourning his passing days before he died.

"The police were also at first treating it like it was an accident, but there are certainly things which don't appear to tie in with that..." - Robert Wellstead's sister Shirley

While one doctor has told the family he had an accident, they are not yet wholly convinced.

Shirley added: "The police were also at first treating it like it was an accident, but there are certainly things which don't appear to tie in with that. There some inconsistencies.

"There have certainly been some Chinese whispers. We even heard that he had been hit over the head with a claw hammer.

"We have heard lots of different things, but I wish people would realise that it's disturbing enough for the family without that.

"People were posting things on Facebook like 'rest in peace' before he had died."

 

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