A DEFENDANT standing trial in Torquay collapsed and died in the middle of his hearing.
Staff rushed to help Stuart Parsons, 82, a former teacher from Paignton, after he toppled over in the dock.
But despite their best efforts and those of paramedics who arrived quickly on the scene, Mr Parsons later died at Torbay Hospital.A spokesman for the courts and tribunal service said: "A defendant was taken ill at Torquay Magistrates' Court on Thursday, January 3.
"Trained first-aiders assisted until an ambulance arrived. The defendant was taken to hospital where sadly he later died."
Mr Parsons was in court to answer a charge of religiously aggravated harassment.
It was said that on March 25 last year he displayed some writing, sign or other visible representation which was threatening, abusive or insulting within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment alarm or distress, and the offence was religiously aggravated.
It is alleged Mr Parsons was handing out leaflets about the influence of Sharia law in the UK.
He had pleaded not guilty and was standing trial at the time of his collapse.
Mr Parsons, of Leighon Road, was a widower who was born in Paignton, but spent much of his working life in Kent.He had no surviving blood relatives but had relations through his marriage living in Wales.
The Torbay coroner's office was informed of Mr Parson's death but there will be no inquest as he died of natural causes.