Death of pensioner 'in part due to assault', inquest hears

Ahmet Dobran

Ahmet Dobran in hospital after the assault. - Credit: Metropolitan Police

An elderly cancer patient died "as a result of injury complications," after being assaulted, an inquest has heard.  

Ahmet Dobran spent the last few months of his life in hospital following the attack in Sussex Road, East Ham in August 2017, which left him with a fractured spine.

The inquest into his January 2018 death, held at the Adult College of Barking and Dagenham on November 10, heard how Mr Dobran was walking to his home in Sussex Road after visiting friends in East Ham High Street when he was "targeted and followed by three males".

Coroner Dr Shirley Radcliffe told how "a male waited on the opposite side of the street and two men followed him" into the block of flats where he lived, before the pensioner was assaulted in the communal area.

She continued: "During the time when Mr Dobran and the two unknown males were in the communal area, neighbours reported hearing a commotion."

Mr Dobran, she told the inquest, said that he had been attacked from behind and a necklace and watch were stolen from him during the assault. 

He was taken to Newham Hospital by ambulance and initially discharged before returning after he "complained of severe neckache and was vomiting violently" during the night. An x-ray revealed three small fractures in the neck vertebrae.

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Trainee Det Con Sam Bush, who investigated the assault, told the inquest: "Through speaking to Mr Dobran, unfortunately he couldn't see the attackers from behind. From CCTV work I was able to get good images of these assailants but unfortunately, two of the attackers to this day have not been identified, only one has been identified.

"They charged him with the robbery that happened on August 27, I believe that was in December 2017. It was a team of officers that were looking at the suspect along with other males in an unrelated matter. They got in contact with me and said 'we believe that the male involved in your robbery is the same man involved in this'."

This man, TDC Bush said, was "the chap who was standing on the other side of the road" and when it went to trial, the judge "didn't believe that this person had enough involvement in the robbery". 

Dr Radcliffe asked him: "There's no further likelihood of identifying the actual assailants that injured Mr Dobran?"

TDC Bush told her: "Evidentially it is hard but however I haven't stopped looking for possible suspects, I'm still involved with this. I've joined five different teams since then but I am still keeping my eye out."

Dr Radcliffe described the assault on Mr Dobran as "very unpleasant", adding that "the bones in his neck were already weakened". 

"It is quite a complex matter because of the very significant pre-existing conditions," she said. "It's a combination of the assault and the very significant pre-existing medical conditions.

"I think we have to reflect that he was assaulted and that has contributed to his death."

The coroner recorded a narrative conclusion, saying: "He died as a result of complications of the injuries he received in conjunction with his significant comorbidities."

The inquest heard how Mr Dobran, also known as Alex, was born into a Turkish Muslim family in Cyprus and came to London in the 1950s. He returned to Cyprus for a period after his marriage broke down before eventually coming back to the UK.

Mr Dobran, the inquest heard, had been diagnosed with myeloma - a blood cancer - and Parkinson's disease, and although unwell, liked to spend his days going out and about, regularly visiting a betting shop in East Ham.

A family statement described him as a "charmer" and keen gambler who was "always immaculately dressed", adding: "Everyone knew him, this little old Cypriot with bags of shopping."