No evidence of ‘foul play’ in blind Homerton golfer’s death

Stephen and Lily-May Ford

Stephen and Lily-May Ford - Credit: Archant

A coroner found no “evidence of foul play” at the second inquest of a blind golfer, after police were alerted over potential “suspicious circumstances” of his death last year.

Stephen Ford, 70, of Coopersale Way, in Homerton, died in his wife’s arms on January 17 2014, on a plane bound for Mauritius, where the couple were planning to take a relaxing holiday.

One month later, a man claiming to act on behalf of Mr Ford’s sister hinted to police that his death might have been suspicious, despite a coroner in Mauritius already ruling that Mr Ford died from natural causes – prompting a second inquest in the UK.

Det Insp Jones told Walthamstow Coroner’s Court on Wednesday last week that police had looked into the allegations and he said that Mr Ford’s sister had declined to give a statement.

He said: “She said she had no concerns and did not want anything to do with the investigation.”

Coroner Dr Shirley Radcliffe said: “Mr Ford had heart and lung disease, and was clearly not very well despite being stoical and strong. He was on a considerable amount of medication.

“He had planned his regular flight and consulted his hospital and they agreed he was fit to fly but there was always a risk in any long-haul journey.

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“Mr Ford had the capacity to balance that risk and decided to fly. On the flight, between Dubai and Mauritius, sadly he succumbed to his heart disease.”

She added the second post-mortem showed everything was in keeping with the examination in Mauritius, ruling a final verdict that Mr Ford died from “ischemic heart disease and natural causes.”

Mrs Lily-May Ford, his wife of 33 years, spoke of her relief that the ordeal in establishing a cause of death is now over.

She said: “We were very happy. He thought the sun would help his health problems – he just loved Mauritius but it wasn’t to be.

“I will remember him with a smile on my lips; he was incredibly funny. He had a zest for life and used to make me laugh from morning to night.”

Mr Ford was an early member of the English Blind Golf Association, and played for England all over the world during his career, winning trophies as an individual and team member.

He had Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy which affected his eyes and bones, causing him to lose his sight, aged 20.

Following rehabilitation, he went into the furniture trade and later worked for Harrods and English piano manufacturer Broadwood and Sons before moving to the Inner London Education Authority as a piano tuner and lecturer.