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Body of King's Lynn doctor was found in car parked outside supermarket, inquest hears

The death of a man whose body was found in his car at a Lynn supermarket last year was drug-related, an inquest has heard.

Ryan Pickering, of Monkton Way in Lynn, was discovered in his car parked at the Lidl shop on Austin Street on December 16, the hearing in Lynn was told on Friday.

The court heard that Dr Pickering, 41, who had previously worked at Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital, had been dealing with issues with debt, his work, his relationship and his health.

Dr Ryan Pickering. Picture: SUBMITTED. (20145464)
Dr Ryan Pickering. Picture: SUBMITTED. (20145464)

But senior coroner for Norfolk, Jacqueline Lake said she was not satisfied he intended to take his own life.

In a statement read to the court on her behalf, his former wife said: "He was one of the unluckiest guys, it was one stumbling block after the other, but he was one of the strongest people I knew, he never gave up."

She said that Dr Pickering, who she married in 2008, had a son who was still living in South Africa – where Dr Pickering was born.

Their relationship ended in 2010, at which time she said he was depressed.

After their relationship ended, they remained friends, and Dr Pickering started a new relationship, with whom he had a daughter. At the time of his death, however, this relationship had also ended.

The court heard that Dr Pickering had been a junior doctor at the QEH but in late 2017 he was asked to leave due to concerns he was "over-sedated". He was on anti-depressants as well as medication to help manage pain due to pancreatitis.

He took overdoses on May 5 and May 31 of last year – the latter incident he described as a "cry for help".

Between June 8 and June 18, he stayed at a psychiatric facility, the Priory Hospital in Bristol, on an informal basis, after which he was referred to the Crisis Team in Lynn.

Between this time and his death, Dr Pickering was referred to the community mental health team and he "continued to engage".

In August, he returned to work at the QEH in an administrative role, but in September he developed abdominal pain and was admitted into the hospital.

Jonathan Buck, senior mental health nurse at the Fermoy Unit, said: "During his medical career he spent time working with many of my colleagues and he had always been regarded as an excellent doctor by everyone.

"He went above and beyond for the benefit of his patients, sometimes at the detriment of himself."

On December 14, Dr Pickering was described as being "excited" about seeing his daughter by her mother, who was expecting him to visit later that day.

When he had not arrived in the early hours of the next day, she called him a number of times. He was confused and said his car would not start and he did not know where he was.

When she rang later in the morning, his phone had run out of battery, so she called the police and he was treated as a missing person.

Dr Pickering's body was found in his car on Sunday, December 16. Paramedics attended but he was declared deceased.

In a post-mortem examination, Dr James Sington said the medical cause of his death was polypharmacy toxicity.

In his report, he said the combination of drugs Dr Pickering had taken were "consistent with therapeutic use".

"Overall the findings show that Dr Pickering had taken various medicinal drugs prior to his death," he said.

Mrs Lake concluded that Dr Pickering's death was drug-related.

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