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Truth of cancer surgeon's death may never be known
THE truth behind the death of a gifted Widnes cancer surgeon may never be known.
Anthony Owen, aged 68, was found lying unconscious and bleeding beside his car, yards from his home in Hale Road, Hale Village, at around 10pm on Sunday, March 11, last year.
Cheshire Coroner Nicholas Rheinberg recorded an open verdict yesterday (Tuesday) after deliberating for a week over a day’s evidence.
He said: “An open verdict is the most appropriate in these unusual circumstances.”
He said there was no ‘substantial proof as the the means by which Mr Owen met his death’.
He said Mr Owen had died as a result of a ‘blunt force trauma’ after he was hit in the face and struck his head on the ground, causing ‘unsurvivable head injuries’.
A 17-year-old student car mechanic, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted punching Mr Owen but said it was in self defence.
The boy was cleared of manslaughter at Liverpool Crown Court in August after the prosecution offered no evidence.
Mr Rheinberg questioned some of the evidence given by the teenager and his two friends, who were riding bikes with no lights when they claim Mr Owen confronted them.
He said the boys had appeared ‘evasive’ and, although they insisted they had not discussed what had happened, he said this was ‘highly unlikely’.
Mr Rheinberg said: “It was totally out of character for Mr Owen to show anger, let alone strike out at someone.”
Afterwards, Mr Owen’s brothers, Eoghan and Terence, and sisters, Alilson and Aileen spoke exclusively for the first time about their brother’s death.
They said: “We were appalled, shocked and deeply saddened by the tragic circumstances of Anthony’s death.
“He was a pillar of society and a devout Roman Catholic who lived a blameless life and devoted himself to the care of others in his work as a surgeon.
“We know Anthony was a peaceful man and it is disappointing that we may never discover the exact circumstances of this dreadful event.”
His family revealed that Mr Owen had saved someone’s life after he died, by donating his kidneys.
His brother, Eoghan, a retired surgeon, said: “We know that is what he would have wanted. The transplant was successful.
“Anthony was a surgeon for 45 years. He devoted his life to helping people.”
“There is no evidence that my brother ever attacked anyone. It is totally inconsistent with his reputation.”
Mr Owen, the eldest of seven children, had a private pilot’s licence and was an avid car enthusiast and antiques collector.
His late father, Mervyn, from Wales, was an ear, nose and throat surgeon, and his late mother, Ann, from Ireland, was a nurse.
Eoghan added: “We want to celebrate Anthony’s memory. He was a very caring man.”