University graduate died after eating two bites of pizza ordered from Deliveroo, inquest hears

9 January 2024, 07:49 | Updated: 9 January 2024, 07:59

James Atkinson
James Atkinson. Picture: PA
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

A university graduate with a peanut allergy died after eating two bites of a pizza slice that was ordered from Deliveroo, an inquest has been told.

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James Atkinson ordered a chicken tikka masala pizza, chips and other Indian dishes with his flatmate, having searched the internet for likely ingredients in certain foods, an inquest in Newcastle was told.

The computer programmer, 23, ate 'less than a slice of the pizza' before starting to feel unwell.

While his flatmate unsuccessfully looked for an EpiPen, Mr Atkinson called an ambulance.

Ambulance staff then found Mr Atkinson in his bathroom "in the tripod position" and breathing extremely quickly, and he was given adrenalin.

The paramedic said: "James was scared throughout."

He asked "Am I going to die?" Mr Gillespie said.

By the time he was taken downstairs, he was assessed to have a Glasgow coma score of three, Dr Jennifer Bolton, a Home Office pathologist, said.

He was "profoundly unconscious" and "gasping for air", she added.

Mr Atkinson was taken to Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary at 8.40pm on July 10 2020 and, despite the efforts of medics to resuscitate him, his death was confirmed at 9.21pm.

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Toxicology tests showed he had no alcohol or drugs in his system and so his decision-making ability was not impaired, the inquest was told.

Dr Bolton said Mr Atkinson was known to be "usually very good" at monitoring his allergies, having been diagnosed with a peanut allergy 10 years before.

The contents of his stomach were examined by an expert after his death and what were possibly nuts were found.

Examination of the uneaten takeaway food also detected the presence of peanuts, as did analysis of a "nut mix" at the Dadyal restaurant that supplied it, Dr Bolton said.

She gave the cause of death as anaphylaxis following peanut ingestion.

At the start of the hearing, Mr Atkinson's parents Jill and Stuart came forward together to read out a pen portrait of their son.

On behalf of the family, Stuart said: "James had a gift of making others happy, checking in on friends and offering support when needed.

"To be in his company with his amazing sense of humour and infectious laugh was a privilege.

"First on the dance floor and last to leave, James lived life to its fullest but also had a sensitive and thoughtful side.

"His whole family meant the world to him. He was loving, kind and caring.

"James's sudden death has left an insurmountable hole in our hearts.

"He had his whole life ahead of him full of future plans and dreams that will not be realised or witnessed by his family.

"No more memories to make.

"We were blessed to have him for the 23 years that we did. He is irreplaceable.

"However, to honour him we hold a forever space in our hearts and carry him with us always - our beautiful boy James."

The inquest was adjourned until 10am on Tuesday.

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