Man who allegedly froze to death while waiting for ambulance had been evicted from home

Ambulances queuing at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital A&E department. Picture: ANTONY KE

Ambulances queuing at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital A&E department. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

A man who allegedly froze to death after waiting 16 hours for an ambulance to arrive had been evicted from his property.

Priors Close in Lowestoft. Picture: Google.

Priors Close in Lowestoft. Picture: Google. - Credit: Archant

Anthony Barnard, 57, was found dead outside a home in Priors Close, Lowestoft, on December 28.

Police had reported concerns for his welfare to the ambulance service at 3.46pm the previous day, and it was categorised by the service as a non-emergency call not requiring a response.

After a 999 call to the ambulance service at 10.33am on December 28, Mr Barnard was found dead outside the address.

It has emerged that Mr Barnard had recently been evicted from his home in the same street.

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Janis Wilcox, 66, who lives a few doors down from Mr Barnard's former home, said he was a very private man.

She said: 'We didn't know he had come back that night. He had revisited a couple of times since he had been evicted but I don't think anyone knew he was there because he had gone into the back garden.

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'It's tragic to think in this day and age that someone could die in the garden from what we presume was hypothermia although we don't know that for sure.'

Another neighbour said: 'He was a very lonely sort of man, he lived by himself.

'He was a troubled man and the ambulance was out here quite often.

'It's very sad when someone perishes like that.'

Andrew McTear, who was dealing with Mr Barnard's bankruptcy, said he was made bankrupt in September 2016 and was evicted from the property in September 2017.

'He wouldn't have had access to the house itself,' he said. 'I think you could get into the back garden by a side path.'

He said he did not know where Mr Barnard had been staying.

The East of England Ambulance Service said the incident was being 'formally investigated' by the trust.

Suffolk Police said they have made a 'mandatory referral' to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), which will conduct an independent investigation.

An IOPC spokesman said: 'The matter was referred to us because previous concerns for the man's welfare had been raised with Suffolk Police.

'Our investigation will examine the call handling and police response to these calls.'

An ambulance service spokesman said the call from police on December 27 was of a 'report of concerns for a man who was conscious and breathing and sitting outside at an address in Lowestoft'.

The spokesman said: 'We were informed he had no obvious injuries or medical complaint and following triage, the call was categorised as a non-emergency call not requiring a response.'

The call the following day, to the same address in Priors Close, was a 'report of a man who was not breathing and was in cardiac arrest'.

A paramedic in a rapid response vehicle attended in eight minutes followed by another rapid response vehicle and ambulance officer, the trust said, but the patient was confirmed to have died.

'This case is being formally investigated by the trust and our findings will be reported back to the family in due course,' the spokesman said.

The matter was raised at this week's Prime Minister's Questions by Waveney MP Peter Aldous, and described by Theresa May as a 'very worrying and tragic case'.

Speaking today, Mr Aldous said he was pleased to learn the actions of both Suffolk Constabulary and the East of England Ambulance Service Trust were to be independently examined.

He said: 'It's very important that these two investigations are properly co-ordinated because I think we need to establish between the two services exactly what happened.

'There was clearly a tragic error and we need to see where this happened so we can learn from that and put the system right.'

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