Man, 34, dubbed ‘gentle giant’, died from heart condition on night out to celebrate fiancée’s birthday, inquest told

16:32 12 April 2012

Richard Warden with his daughter Grace

Richard Warden with his daughter Grace


A WISBECH man dubbed “a gentle giant” died from an undiagnosed heart condition on a night out to celebrate his fiancée’s birthday, an inquest heard.

Richard Warden’s condition was probably not helped by alcohol and cocaine use, an inquest at King’s Lynn was told.

Mr Warden, 34, died in the early hours at Chicago’s night spot on July 29 last year and although door staff performed first aid and chest compressions he was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital.

Greater Norfolk coroner William Armstrong said Mr Warden had died accidentally from a combination of medical causes and the use of cocaine and alcohol.

“Richard was no saint and could be a challenging character on occasions,” Mr Armstrong said. “But he was a loving partner and dad.

“The alcohol use was not grossly excessive and the level of cocaine was within the limits of recreational use.”

Mr Warden had been due to marry Sarah Wojtowych on November 5 last year: they had a baby daughter and he was step father to Sarah’s four-year-old son.

“All he ever wanted was a baby,” said Sarah.

They lived at Tipps End, near Welney, but worked together in March and Wisbech running burger vans, a business they began last year.

At the time Sarah said that “yes, he was an ex-con, but Richard had reformed his life.

“He was a gentle giant. He was lovely and had settled down. We were banking our money and were going to get a mortgage. He was so happy.”

Sarah told the inquest they had gone out with friends at about 8pm on July 28 and he had been drinking double vodkas with coke.

He had bought a gram of cocaine before they headed to the Norfolk Street club at about 11.45pm, she said.

“Richard told me he hadn’t taken it, but I should imagine he did,” she added.

They had been in Chicago’s for just over an hour when Mr Warden became involved in a scuffle with another man on the dance floor and was seen to throw a punch.

Staff had restrained him and tried to calm him down, but he was thrashing around, she said.

Witnesses told the inquest that Mr Warden had gone on to the stage behind the DJ booth before he collapsed forward on to the floor.

In the weeks before his death, Miss Wojtowych said he had complained of pains in his groin, had passed blood and experienced night sweats.

“He was not the sort of person to go to the doctor,” she said. “He made out he was fine. He was the love of my life. We were trying to move on and grow up.”

In 2005, he was one of a number of family members and friends jailed for their role in a major drugs ring. He was among those sentenced to ten years for their part in the crime.

Richard’s dad Barry said:” Let’s face it we all did wrong, and got long sentences. But Richard had turned his life round and was doing well.

“He had a girlfriend, a baby and although he weighed 17st was not fat. He went to the gym every day and was a fit as a fiddle.”

A family friend said she had known Richard since the time he was born and “he had paid the price for what he did. After coming out from prison he was a changed man”.

She said it would be “a terrible shame” if people kept bringing up his past without recognising what he had started to achieve.


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