'He should still be with us' - family of Sheffield door death man angry over inquest conclusion

Terence Birks with his children David, Robert, Jackie and Stephen
Terence Birks with his children David, Robert, Jackie and Stephen
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The grieving family of a retired lorry driver who died after being struck by doors at a Sheffield health centre have criticised the outcome of an inquest into his death.

Terence Birks was hit by a set of automatic doors at Darnall Health Centre in April last year, sending him crashing to the floor and shattering his hip.

Darnall Health Centre

Darnall Health Centre

The 77-year-old, of Spofforth Road, Darnall, never recovered from his injuries and died three weeks later at Northern General Hospital after having a heart attack.

A three-day inquest into his death closed at Sheffield Coroner's Court on Wednesday afternoon, with jurors concluding the lack of regular safety checks did not contribute 'significantly' to his death.

The jury also found that neither the location of safety sensors nor the speed at which the doors were programmed to open and close had played a significant role in his death.

They gave the cause of death as 'frailty syndrome' and 'osteoporotic fracture', with a heart attack and dementia both contributing factors.

Susan Birks, his widow, broke down in tears as the jury read out its conclusions, and outside the court Terence's son Stephen Birks and daughter Jackie Clover spoke of their disappointment at the jury's decision.

"I don't understand how they came to that conclusion. The doors hit him with such force he smashed his hip into four pieces. It didn't just break. It smashed," said Jackie.

"It's too late for my dad but we want to stop this happening to anyone else."

Ms Clover also paid tribute to her late father, saying: "He was such a happy-go-lucky man and we miss him dearly.

"He should still be with us today and we truly believe if this hadn't happened he would be."

The jury was asked to state whether the location of the door safety sensors, the speed at which the doors closed or the absence of a regular inspection, testing or servicing of the doors since they were installed in 2013 had contributed significantly to Mr Birks' death. It answered no to all three questions.

Mr Birks was attending the health centre with his wife on April 22 to collect a repeat prescription from the pharmacy when he was hit by the internal doors.

The inquest heard how he had become agitated after undergoing hip surgery at Northern General Hospital and had suffered a heart attack before dying there on May 11.

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