An inquest has heard how the ventilator a terminally ill man relied on to breathe was found unplugged on the night he died.

Nursing agency Team Medical, based in Southampton’s High Street, were contracted to supply around-the-clock care for Matthew Simmonds, at his mother’s home in Oakmount Road, Chandler’s Ford in order to fulfil his wish to pass his final days at home.

In a police statement read at the Winchester hearing, the firm’s branch manager Kerry Harnett told how she arrived at the house shortly after the 39-year-old had died to find police interviewing all those there, including two of her staff, nurse Kadiatu Harris and care assistant Cynthia Mackay.

She said that Ms Mackay had later said of the ventilator: “The plug was out and I can’t understand how that happened.”

A post-mortem concluded that Mr Simmonds, who suffered from a rare genetic condition called von Hippel-Lindau disease, died on July 6, 2011 because of “interrupted ventilation” hours after being released from hospital.

The inquest heard how nurse Kadiatu Harries also worked for Poole Hospital, from whom she had received a written warning four months before the incident.