Recluse, 24, died on coldest night for decades

A MAN with autism died of hypothermia on one of the coldest days in decades, an inquest heard.

Martin Reilly, 24, was suffering from malnutrition which left his body defenceless as outside temperatures plunged to -18C.

Oxfordshire Coroner’s Court heard yesterday that Asperger’s Syndrome sufferer Mr Reilly, of Broadhurst Gardens, Littlemore, would spend up to two months at a time living as a recluse in his bedroom.

He had been ill for a week, but only told his family the night before he died on January 6.

That week saw the heaviest snowfall to hit Britain in years, with services around the county coming to a standstill.

Mr Reilly’s family claimed they called an out-of hours doctor who seemed “reluctant” to come out in the snow, instead telling them to give him water and call out the GP in the morning.

They found him dead in his bedroom the following morning.

His sister, Mary, said: “Martin very rarely left his room and could stay there for a couple of months at a time.

“He would only eat junk food like crisps, sausage rolls, Lucozade and milkshakes. He would also cook himself burgers.

“We tried to get him to eat some fruit and he did eat some apples and grapes.”

Miss Reilly said the family were not worried about him until he told them he was ill the night before he died.

She said: “Martin said he had been vomiting all week and then we started to panic.

“I phoned emergency services and they told me a doctor would call.

“When he did, he seemed reluctant to come out and it sounded like he was trying to get off the phone. He said to give Martin sips of water and call out his GP in the morning.

“By the time our GP had arrived, our brother had died.”

Miss Reilly added the heating in their house was on but her brother’s room seemed quite cold.

Pathologist Dr Ian Roberts performed the autopsy at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

He said: “He weighed 42.8kg and had a body mass index on 14.2, which is exceedingly low.

“His state of nutrition meant his body was not as able to defend against hypothermia. He had hardly any body fat.

“He was also not wearing any clothes. He died from hypothermia and malnutrition.”

Coroner Nicholas Gardiner recorded a verdict of death by natural causes, partially contributed to by self-neglect.

He said: “To some extent he was the author of his own misfortune.”

dhearn@oxfordmail.co.uk

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