A Tesco worker collapsed and died 30 minutes after a confrontation with shoplifters that left her 'shaken' and 'angry'.
Hilary Simmons, 59, died on 30 April last year, half an hour after she tried to stop two men stealing wine from the Tesco Express in Middlesbrough.
Mrs Simmons - who was a shift leader at the store - saw Michael James Love hide a bottle of wine in his jacket and was aware that he was already banned from the shop for stealing on a previous occasion. The Tesco employee then confronted Love and a man who had entered the store with him, and both men left the shop.
Mrs Simmons subsequently told colleagues she felt like she was 'going to have a heart attack' and within half an hour she collapsed while on a cigarette break. Emergency services were called to the scene but Mrs Simmons was pronounced dead later that day at James Cook University Hospital.
Four men in their 30s were arrested as part of a manslaughter investigation but all were released without charge and Cleveland Police confirmed the case had been closed in May.
An inquest at Teesside Coroner's Court this week heard that Mrs Simmons suffered from an undiagnosed heart disease that was so severe she could have succumbed to 'sudden death' at any time - though it would be more likely 'after a period of stress'.
The mum-of-two was found to have an abnormality in the rhythm of her heart, extensive scarring and atheroma in her coronary arteries. A second post-mortem found the 'altercation contributed [to her death] but not to the criminal standards mark'.
In a statement read to the court, Mrs Simmons' husband Stan said she had loved her job, having worked for Tesco for 18 years.
He said: "(Hilary) had a great personality and loved to laugh. She loved her work. She was very well liked in the store and known as 'Tesco Mummy'.
"She must have stopped hundreds (of shoplifters) in her time. She would class the stock as being her own and not Tesco's.
"She was well known and respected in the town. She would not have a bad word to
say about anyone.
"I never heard Hilary complain ever about being ill."
After a two-day hearing, the inquest concluded: "Hilary Simmons died as a result of natural causes contributed to by the stress of dealing with the shoplifter."
Featured Image Credit: North News
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