ARMY reservist and cancer survivor David Atkins died after choking on a sausage outside Sainsbury’s in Poole town centre.

The healthy 46-year-old fell to the floor in front of shocked shoppers on New Year’s Eve and died six days later when his life support machine was switched off, a Bournemouth inquest was told.

The inquest was one of two heard on the same day which involved healthy people in their 40s who died after choking on everyday food items in Poole.

Coroner Sheriff Payne heard Mr Atkins, who lived with his parents in Hamilton Road, Corfe Mullen, had a piece of sausage stuck in his throat, which blocked his airway.

An off-duty GP and an off-duty A&E doctor attempted to help him before paramedics arrived and removed the piece of sausage, which was roughly a third of the size of a whole, full-sized sausage.

But it could only be removed when paramedics used a special piece of equipment, the coroner was told.

Mr Atkins died in Poole Hospital on January 6 with the cause of his death given as cardiac arrest and irreversible brain damage due to asphyxia.

It is not known where he had purchased the sausage because he had no other food with him, the inquest heard.

Mr Atkins, a father-of-two, was an IT entrepreneur, Army Reservist and a member of the maritime voluntary service.

He had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, Soft Cell Sarcoma, in 2010 but was in remission.

Born in Maidstone, he studied at Bristol University before working in the Cayman Islands and setting up two video conferencing companies.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Mr Payne said: “There is no medical reason for him to have choked on food but it would appear that a substantial piece of sausage was removed from his throat.

“We have no idea where it had come from – this was obviously an unintended event.”