Teenage army cadet died of stroke after turning head too quickly while making dinner, inquest hears

Phoebe Southworth
Ben Littlewood is believed to have torn an artery leading to the brain as he prepared food in the kitchen of his home in Dukinfield, Greater Manchester - Cavendish Press (Manchester) Ltd

A teenage army cadet died of a stroke after turning his head too quickly while making dinner, an inquest has heard.

Ben Littlewood is believed to have torn an artery leading to the brain as he prepared food in the kitchen of his home in Dukinfield, Greater Manchester, on April 3 this year. He died in hospital eight days later.

The fit and healthy 17-year-old, who had been studying joinery and carpentry, was a lance corporal in the army cadets and was hoping to join the Territorial Army.

A coroner ruled at an inquest in Stockport that he is likely to have died from a very rare Ischaemic stroke, which can be brought on by tears to an artery leading to the brain as a result of neck injury.

Doctors were left baffled that someone of his age had suffered a stroke given his young age and one medic who treated Mr Littlewood said he had not come across a similar case in his 12-year career.

Coroner Chris Morris said Mr Littlewood was a "talented and creative" young man who "had everything to live for".

"This is very rare in the population, let alone in someone of Ben's youth," said Mr Morris. "By the time this Ischaemic stroke was finally diagnosed there was no realistic treatment options and he tragically passed away."

Mr Littlewood's mother, nursery worker Vicki Brocklehurst, told the inquest that he was a first class student who loved college and had the "biggest heart".

Ms Brocklehurst said he had been "bright and alert" the day of his death and was looking after his siblings at home in the afternoon when she tried to ring him from work but got no response.

"Normally he would call back and at least answer but it must have been about 20 minutes and I said to my colleagues 'I'm going to have to go home - something's not quite right'," she said.  

"He was lying on the kitchen floor fitting and the dog bowl had been upturned and there were biscuits on the floor. I thought maybe he had fallen over the bowl and fallen and hit his head.

"There is signs to suggest Ben had been preparing tea and made his sister a crisp butty and himself a bacon butty which was half eaten."

Dr Christopher Douglass, a consultant neurologist at Salford Royal Hospital, said it is possible that Mr Littlewood twisting his head could have caused the tear in the artery.

He added: "The vein can be damaged by posture, people who have been painting, just tipping their head back or one case just a person reversing down a lane and just turning the head can do this."

---The election explained: Watch Yahoo's simple guide---

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting.