Mystery over death of man, 25, in restaurant

Pictured is the Le Bistrot Pierre, Ecclesall Road, Sheffield.
Pictured is the Le Bistrot Pierre, Ecclesall Road, Sheffield.

A FIT and healthy man died in the toilets of a Sheffield restaurant after it is believed he suffered an allergic reaction - but the exact cause remains a mystery.

Daniel Keeble, aged 25, collapsed after a Christmas meal at Le Bistrot Pierre in Ecclesall Road with colleagues from construction firm Mott Macdonald, where he worked as an engineer.

His body was not discovered until the next morning, with friends believing he had left early.

At an inquest, coroner Chris Dorries said: “Mr Keeble’s death presents something of a puzzle to us. We shouldn’t be afraid of puzzles - that’s the way it is sometimes, but I haven’t met a case like this in my 20-year career.

“There are certain things we can be clear about. It is most unlikely to have arisen from common circumstances that can bring death in a fit young person, such as epilepsy or a cardiac condition, nor through use or misuse of substances.

“It’s almost certain his death has come about very quickly and there is good evidence that Daniel has suffered an anaphylactic reaction to something, most probably an innocent foodstuff. It may have been something he had eaten or been exposed to previously without harm.”

Mr Dorries said an added complication was that Mr Keeble had been found with high levels of a chemical called tryptamine in his bloodstream, the presence of which could not be explained ‘despite the best efforts of very capable doctors’.

He gave a narrative verdict that Mr Keeble, who lived in Baron Street, Highfield, died ‘as a consequence of a severe anaphylactic reaction the exact cause of which remains unknown’.

Mr Dorries said there was ‘no suggestion there had been any fault with the food’ and Mr Keeble had no known allergies.

Pathologist Dr Julian Burton said Mr Keeble said high presence of a chemical in the bloodstream called tryptase - different to tryptamine - showed he had suffered a type of anaphylactic shock resulting in an internal reaction in which a blood clot blocked his lungs, leading to death very quickly.

Restaurant general manager Nicholas Dunkley said that the Mott McDonald party had been eating from the restaurant’s standard December menu served to thousands of people and that nobody else had suffered an allergic reaction.

The exact meal eaten by Mr Keeble before his death on December 10 was not revealed.

Mr Dunkley, who found Mr Keeble’s body in a locked toilet cubicle the next day, said: “The party ate from our regular menu that we ran throughout December. Thousands of people ate from it.”

In a statement, Mr Keeble’s wife, Tessa, whom he met at Sheffield University, said he was a ‘very healthy’ man who was a non-smoker and kept fit playing football and cycling.

She said he had not been ill before, apart from in September last year, when he collapsed in the toilet at the couple’s home.

Her husband believed he had eaten a ‘dodgy meal’ for lunch - and that she responded to his cries for help to find him collapsed on the floor, red in the face and vomiting. He asked for an ambulance and emergency crews attended, although he did not have to be taken to hospital.

She said: “I’m at a loss as to why Daniel passed away so suddenly and would like to find out the reason why he died.”

Mrs Keeble said her husband had told her he did not want a late night but she woke to find he was not in bed at 5am, so called his colleagues then police to report him missing.

The inquest heard Mr Dunkley was not found the night he died because his colleagues thought he had left early, so took his coat and jumper - and restaurant staff checked the toilets only to make sure the hot tap was not still running.

The next day, the cleaner assumed the toilet cubicle was locked because it was broken, as had been the case several weeks previously. It was only when police asked Mr Dunkley to make a thorough check of the cubicles that Mr Keeble’s body was found, the inquest heard.