THE wife of a prisoner who had a heart attack questioned if he might have survived if he had not been inside, an inquest heard.

But coroner Veronica Hamilton-Deeley said he had been suffering from a heart problem for several hours and could not have been saved, even if the hospital was “five minutes away”.

William O’Donoghue told fellow inmates he had a pain in his shoulder and went to bed at three in the afternoon saying it felt like he was coming down with the flu, an inquest at Woodvale Crematorium in Brighton heard.

He said problems had started the previous night and described feeling “like he had done a round with Mike Tyson the night before”.

Shortly before 9.30pm, after his condition had worsened, he visited a prison officer to say he was unwell and, after a call to the NHS’s 111 service, an ambulance was sent to collect him from Ford Prison near Arundel.

It arrived at 10.08pm on June 17.

He was rushed to the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton but suffered a heart attack in the ambulance.

Dr David Hildick-Smith told the inquest that despite resuscitation efforts and other attempted treatments, Mr O’Donoghue was pronounced dead in the early hours of the following morning. The 43-year-old also had type two diabetes.

Inmates at Ford are not locked in but have a curfew of 8.30pm, a representative for the prison told Miss Hamilton-Deeley.

If they have a problem they are able to leave and “report it to the office,” she said.

But Natalie O’Donoghue questioned whether being in prison may have affected her husband’s chances of survival.

She said: “If he was at home with me and I noticed, could he have survived? They are prisoners and they are afraid to go and confront these things, I know William was.”

Mr Hildick-Smith said: “All we know is when he gets to us the heart tracking shows the heart attack is well advanced and he is really unwell.”

Miss Hamilton-Deeley said: “You feel if William had not been in prison then we would not be here today but we are where we are.

“Professor Hildick-Smith is a leading figure in his field and if anybody could have saved William it would be him.”

She concluded he died of natural causes, listing this as cardiogenic shock, a condition in which the heart suddenly cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs, following a heart attack. She said it was likely this had been going on for “maybe up to 48 hours” before he died.

Miss Hamilton-Deeley praised ambulance crews and prison staff for their actions and said: “Even if the hospital had been five minutes down the road, at that stage it was too late.”

She also listed his diabetes and smoking, which he had done since the age of about 17, as contributing factors.

Mrs O’Donoghue paid tribute to her husband and said: “His children were his life, and he loved life. His whole world revolved around them. Everything he did was for them, good or bad.

“He is gone now and I have to wake up to those seven children every morning, but the love we had for him will live on for ever. That’s the only thing that keeps us going.”

She also thanked fellow inmates at Ford, many of who were involved in a charity bike ride following his death to raise money to help his family.