Widower of woman who died within hours of eating a curry 'after learning of his secret family in Pakistan' denies poisoning his wifeLurdes Lopes died at St Mary's hospital after complaining about toothacheCCTV footage from the day show 'suspicious' behaviour after she ate curryMrs Lopes had told friends her husband abused her and that he would kill her if she asked for a divorceHusband Sardar Khan was questioned by a coroner
15:24 GMT, 18 December 2012
The husband of a woman who died hours after eating a curry, was forced to deny that he poisoned his wife's lunch during an inquest into her death.
Lurdes Lopes, 35, who died last year
shortly after arriving at a London hospital complaining about
toothache, had acted 'suspiciously' following her re-heated curry lunch,
CCTV footage from her workplace showed.
Her husband Sardar Khan was questioned by a coroner yesterday following evidence that Mrs Lopes had discovered his 'secret family' from a previous marriage in his native Pakistan.
Possible cause of death: Mother-of-one Lurdes Lopes may have been poisoned by the microwave curry she had for lunch
Shortly before her death Mrs Lopes, who had a child from a previous relationship, had confided in friends that her husband abused her and had once pushed her in front of a car.
When prompted to leave the marriage she replied that her husband would kill her if she asked for a divorce, Westminster Coroner's Court was told.
In the hours before her death on December 22
last year Mrs Lopes had eaten a microwave curry for lunch and CCTV footage from her workplace in Kilburn, London show her health
appearing to rapidly deteriorate.
Detective Sergeant Lynda Smith, who
studied the CCTV footage
said she ‘could not exclude suspicious circumstances’ .
‘The first thing I notice is that she
wipes her lips with a tissue like there is something annoying her, she
is wiping it more than if there was just something on her mouth.
‘She carries on working and there are certain frames where she touches her face, rubs her chest around her stomach.
Open verdict: Mrs Lopes had confided in friends that her husband abused her and would 'kill her' if she asked for a divorce, Westminster Coroner's Court heard
‘Towards the end of the day she appears as if she is getting ready to leave with everybody but she appears to fall against the doorframe. She seems fine in the morning and she is in discomfort after she has eaten.’
Later that evening Portuguese-born Mrs Lopes, of Maida Vale, west London,
went to St Mary's Hospital with her husband complaining of a
severe ache in her right jaw.
She was told to call a dentist but as Mrs Lopes dialled the number she collapsed to the floor and began foaming at the mouth
Doctors rushed to her aid and tried to resuscitate her, but she was pronounced dead at 9.40pm that night.
Coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox questioned Mr Khan about the day of his wife's death, but Mr Khan denied allegations that he was in any way involved in her death.
He denied being abusive towards her and insisted she had known of his family in Pakistan and was ‘happy’ in the marriage.
When posed with the straight question as to whether he put anything poisonous into his wife's lunch he replied: 'No madam, no'.
Sudden death: Mrs Lopes collapsed and began frothing at the mouth shortly after her arrival at A&E at St Mary's Hospital, Paddington, London
Speaking through an Urdu interpreter he
said: ‘I had told her everything before our Muslim marriage, we were
happy and she was happy.’
An initial post mortem found that Mrs Lopes died from a heart attack, but after viewing the CCTV footage the Coroner's Court ordered a second post mortem to be carried out.
Dr Nathaniel Cary, who carried out the second post mortem, ruled out myocardial infarction but said he could not reach a cause of death.
No toxins were found in her blood, but the court heard how many poisonous substances are very difficult to trace and that the investigation had been hampered by the fact that Mrs Lopes' stomach contents and much of her blood had been disposed of before the second post mortem was ordered.
Coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox delivered an open verdict and said that the CCTV evidence was ‘very suggestive that some poison may have been within the food’ but that she could not be sure of this.
She said: ‘I cannot exclude suspicious circumstances but I have no positive, direct evidence of anything suspicious in this case.'
The case had been referred to police after the initial opening of the inquest and although Mr Khan was questioned no action has been taken against him.