A FORMER county councillor choked to death on a sandwich, an inquest has heard.

The hearing at New Earswick was told that Raymond Coates, 89, died at his home in Shaw Crescent, Huby, near Easingwold, last December after family attempts to save him with backslaps were in vain.

York’s senior acting coroner Jonathan Leach said a post mortem showed he had choked on food and he concluded that the death of the retired tree consultant was accidental.

Mr Coates was a member of North Yorkshire County Council in the 1970s, but became embroiled in legal controversy in 2003, when he was 76, when a judge ruled that he was too ill to stand trial on serious sexual offences.

He had been due to stand trial with his son, Philip Nigel Coates, 46, of Ascot Way, Acomb, who was later jailed for 13 years after being convicted of three charges of procuring a woman to have sex with his father, one of attempted procurement and one of inciting a woman to commit a serious sexual offence with an animal.

Leeds Crown Court heard that Philip Coates made life hell for two women by making them have sex with Raymond.

The older man had denied 12 sex charges at York Crown Court earlier in the year, including inciting a woman to have sex with an animal, child rape and using threats to procure a woman for sex.

But before a jury was sworn in doctors called by the prosecution and defence told the Honorary Recorder of York, Judge Paul Hoffman, that Raymond Coates had hearing difficulties and cerebral vascular disease. He had great difficulty concentrating or understanding or hearing what was happening around him.

The judge said: “With enormous reluctance, and I emphasise that, enormous reluctance because it is unsatisfactory that these very serious and nasty charges should remain unresolved, I am going to order a stay on this basis.”

“If the evidence were to demonstrate a recovery the stay can be revoked.”

Although no further court hearings were planned, Mr Coates was not formally acquitted, nor was he convicted of any offence.

He would only face trial on sex charges if a doctor decided his health could handle the strain.

Jailing Philip Coates, Judge Hoffman said: “You did this to satisfy yours and your father’s perverted lust and to secure material advantages from your father.”

The judge said that he regarded the offences as akin to rape and found it “extraordinary” that the maximum sentence for procurement was two years.

The judge urged Parliament to change it.