Student killed by spider bite which left gaping wound in his back

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A university student has died days after being bitten by a spider which left a “gaping wound the size of a £1 coin” on his back.

Harry Bolton, 19, was found dead at his shared house. An inquest heard that just four days earlier, the second-year University of Hull student had started to feel unwell after a spider bite. 

Others in the student accommodation complex had also previously reported a spider infestation, HullLive reports.

The hearing heard that on October 7, 2021, Harry’s housemate realised he had not received a response to his text message to him. After he returned home from work that night, he and another housemate knocked on Harry’s door. When they had no response, site security were called and his room door was broken down.

The light was turned on and they found Harry laying in his bed, on his back with his eyes and mouth open. He was cold to the touch and his housemates and the security team member noticed his chest was not moving. They called the police and paramedics. While checking on him, paramedics noticed a £1 large gaping wound on Harry’s back that appeared to be infected, they confirmed he was not breathing and there was no heartbeat and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Just four days earlier, on October 3 2021, Harry had told his friend a spider had bitten him on his back and he was not feeling well. His friend suggested he go to the A&E to get it checked out.

Harry went to Hull Royal Infirmary at 9.40pm that night with a high temperature and a high heart rate. A blood sample was taken and nothing of high risk was detected. A CRP Blood test revealed a level of 54, which indicated there was inflammation.

However, Ben Rayer, an A&E consultant at Hull Royal Infirmary, told the court this was not something that would be flagged up by the labs as a matter of immediate risk. At 1.01am, on October 4, Harry decided to self-discharge.

He told a hospital staff member that he would be returning home to bed and would take himself to a walk-in centre the next day. Hospital staff had no reason to believe Harry did not have the capacity to discharge himself and he went back to his student house.

The following morning was the last time Harry was seen by his housemates. Another housemate, Kacper-Krysztof Zydron, gave evidence in court about a similar bite he had received on his neck in August 2021. Kacper said it initially started off “hurting a bit”, but over a few days it was so bad that he could not move his neck.

He went to A&E and was told to take some paracetamol. It did not work and he told his parents about it.

His parents helped him remove pus from the infection and Kacper said that helped relieve the pain. He called his GP and asked for antibiotics to heal the wound which cleared his infection.

He sent an email to Ashcourt Student Housing about a problem with spiders. Attached in the email was an image of a spider Kacper had taken the following day, it showed a common house spider. But the inquest heard an inspection by the maintenance team found no infestation.

A clause in the tenancy agreement also stated that low-level pest intrusions were the responsibility of tenants. After Harry’s death, pest control was called for the peace of mind of the tenants and a survey was carried out.

Sticky traps were laid out. It revealed that there was a normal number of insects in the house given the time of the year.

Coroner Paul Marks determined that Harry Bolton’s death was caused by sepsis, due to an acute chest infection, as a result of an infected wound on his back.

He said: “Had he not been bitten by an invertebrate, possibly a spider, he would not have died at that time. It is an incredibly unfortunate case. He had a promising future ahead of him.”

After his death, a JustGiving fundraising site raised more than £1,600 in Harry’s memory for Eczema Research.

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