A convicted serial conman who was well enough to be discharged from hospital, only to die in custody five days later, was on a downward slope and would likely have passed away even with medical care, a doctor says.
Max Heslehurst had in the past used his morbid obesity and ill-health as an excuse not to front in court and had reportedly once said that he was "too fat to fly" when authorities tried to extradite him from Australia.
Yesterday, a coronial inquest into his death - held because he died in custody - heard that the 190kg Heslehurst was acutely ill with heart problems and diabetes.
He also had a groin infection and difficulty walking because his extreme weight had damaged the nerves in his feet.
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The 57-year-old, who had racked up dozens of convictions mainly for fraud, died on August 8 last year of congestive heart failure.
Dr Clyde Wade, a Waikato DHB consultant cardiologist, said that at the time, Heslehurst was "on an encyclopedia of drugs" and it was remarkable he was still alive after surgeons gave him five years to live following a heart attack in 2001.
Heslehurst was "as well as we were going to get him" and fit for discharge on August 3, and Dr Wade had few concerns about his ongoing care at Waikeria Prison.
Heslehurst was immediately arrested by police for breaching his parole conditions. "I wouldn't have discharged him if I thought he was going to die but that's the variability of heart failure and I'm not [Dr] House," Dr Wade said.