UK based Zimbabwean nurse, Stephen Chidawa, also known as ‘Stavo’, was discovered by his wife unresponsive in their Gipton home around noon on October 21st last year. He was 45 years old and had just finished a night shift. A post-mortem revealed that he had a “profound and fatal” level of alcohol in his system, equivalent to being five times over the drink-drive limit.
Despite this, an inquest into his death held at Wakefield Coroner’s Court heard evidence from his wife and a work colleague, who both stated that he showed no signs of being under the influence of alcohol that day, and there were no empty bottles in the house. Stacy Chidawa, his wife of 15 years, claimed that while he enjoyed a social drink, he did not drink secretly and knew when he was drunk.

Stephen Chidawa was a mental health nurse who worked at several hospitals in West Yorkshire, including the Newsam Centre in Seacroft. Senior Coroner Kevin McLoughlin noted that in such cases, attending paramedics usually report detecting alcohol on a patient, but in this case, none did.

Recording an open verdict, he expressed confusion and said, “It would be easier to fathom if you found lots of empty alcohol bottles, but there was nothing. I would expect paramedics to say there was a profound smell of alcohol from him, but there was no mention of it…We are left with a mystery. It is one of the highest levels I have ever seen, and I must confess, I’m stumped.”

Stephen Chidawa had 523 mlgs of alcohol in 100 mls of urine, which is a considerably high level. There were also traces of sedative drugs, zolpidem and clonazepam, in his system. He had no significant health concerns.

According to Mrs. Chidawa, Stephen arrived at their home at around 9am that day and told her he was going to have a shower and go to bed. She heard him sneeze at around 12 noon, so she went to check on him. When she tried to wake him up, she found that he was “lifeless.” She immediately called 999 and began performing CPR while waiting for the paramedics to arrive. They arrived minutes later and worked on him for over 45 minutes.

Stephen Chidawa was born in Zimbabwe and came to the UK in 1998 to study nursing at Leeds University. He worked at various hospitals, including the Newsam Centre in Seacroft and Lynfield Mount Hospital in Bradford.

Kelvin Alleyne, a close friend, said, “Wherever he went, people just loved him. Nobody had a bad word to say about him.”