Treatment delay did not cause killer’s death in prison

Melanie Cole

Melanie Cole - Credit: Archant

A mother-of-three who battered a blind 91-year-old man to death with a bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape for his pension money has died from cancer while serving a life sentence.

Melanie Cole, 53, was jailed for at least 30 years in 2011 for murdering William Reilly for just £20 to get money for drink and drugs.

The retired builder suffered multiple skull and facial fractures and was found by his eldest son James at his home in Tower Gardens, Tottenham, on December 29, 2010. He died in hospital days later.

Cole, who lived at Culford Road, De Beauvoir, denied but was convicted of murder in August 2011.

Cole, who had been cleared of murdering her landlord in 2005, died in St Joseph’s Hospice in Mare Street on March 10 this year.

Breast cancer she thought she had beaten returned and spread rapidly through her body to the point where it could not be treated.

City of London Coroner’s Court heard Cole had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006 and required a double mastectomy.

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Last November she reported having stomach and back pains but prison doctors thought she was suffering with heart burn, gall stones or a stomach ulcer.

Her partner George Vela, who attended the hearing, said: “When I saw her on the 20th of January she couldn’t walk, sit down or open her mouth properly.

“It was a big shock, she was a different person, she should have been straight down to the hospital.

“I cannot understand why it took so long for her to be referred to hospital, she looked like she was dying, and she did die.

“How a prison full of people didn’t pick this up I don’t know.”

Doctors had referred her for a scan in early October but by December 23 she still hadn’t received an appointment, exceeding the six-week time limit for appointments.

Coroner Dr Roy Palmer ruled a verdict of death by natural causes and said although a delay in receiving treatment had prolonged Cole’s suffering, it would not have saved her life.