Picture: Sharon Ang/Pixabay

London - A wedding planner died 12 hours after trying a scalding fishcake that burned his throat and caused him to stop breathing.

Darren Hickey’s voice box swelled up after he ate the food at the venue where he worked, an inquest heard.

Hospital doctors could not see the damage and Mr Hickey was sent home with over-the-counter painkillers. But he collapsed at home that evening, and medics were unable to save him after he was taken to A&E by ambulance.

A pathologist said such cases were so rare they were usually seen in house fire victims who have inhaled smoke.

Mr Hickey, a former restaurant maître d’, had suffered a "catastrophic" stroke seven years earlier which left him in hospital for 18 months and meant he had difficulty in walking and speaking. Despite this, the 51-year-old channelled much of his energy into charity work and was given an award by the Stroke Association.

Acting senior coroner Alan Walsh told the inquest in Bolton: "He was a very generous, caring and compassionate man."

Mr Hickey lived and worked at the Ridgmont House wedding venue in Bolton and was on his way to a charity event on April 4 when a chef gave him a small fishcake to sample. But it burned the back of his throat, and as the pain grew worse he visited an urgent care ward at Chorley Hospital. Sent home with paracetamol, he went to his room to rest, the inquest heard.

He was found choking at around 9pm by his partner Neil Parkinson, 55. He told the inquest: "He shouted so I ran upstairs. He was stood up choking and coughing so I banged his back but then he slid forward onto the floor."

Mr Hickey was taken to the Royal Bolton Hospital but was pronounced dead just after midnight, less than 12 hours after sampling the fishcake.

Pathologist Dr Patrick Waugh told the inquest: "He would have had difficulty swallowing because of the pain and then he would have had more swelling which would have made it difficult to breathe... The patient can appear well, they will be talking to you, but then the swelling starts."

An investigation found the damage was so far down the throat it could only be seen with specialist equipment.

Coroner Mr Walsh said the death was an "immense tragedy" and called for lessons to be learnt by casualty staff. Recording a conclusion of accidental death, he added: "This was caused by eating a fishcake, very small and very hot but with catastrophic consequences."

Daily Mail