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Snettisham man’s death caused by years of drug use, inquest hears

A Snettisham man’s death was caused by damage to his heart following years of drug use, an inquest at Norwich Coroner’s Court heard.

Peter Fellowes, 46, was found unresponsive at a friend’s house in Waveney Road, Hunstanton, on April 1 this year.

He had stayed overnight and was seen by his friend still sleeping on the sofa at around 6am, the inquest heard.

The inquest was held at Norfolk Coroner's Court
The inquest was held at Norfolk Coroner's Court

His friend left the house later that morning but returned at 5pm to find Mr Fellowes lifeless on the sofa.

Police and the ambulance service were called and Mr Fellowes’ death was confirmed.

Although some drug paraphernalia was found near Mr Fellowes, police did not think his death was suspicious.

His friend said Mr Fellowes had not been taking illegal drugs but had taken some Pregabalin, which he had on prescription.

Reading the evidence, Norfolk coroner Samantha Goward said there was no evidence of suspicious circumstances and it appeared Mr Fellowes may have died in his sleep.

The inquest heard how Mr Fellowes, of Shelduck Drive in Snettisham, had a history of drug use.

Medical records showed he had heroin dependence in 1998 and in 2022 he suffered with mental health issues due to the use of opioids.

However, he had attended drug and alcohol support services such as Change Grow Live and had significantly reduced his use of both drugs and alcohol.

He had also been prescribed Methadone, an opiate substitute medication used to help people get off drugs.

Mr Fellowes had also identified having very supportive parents as a “protective factor” which helped him deal with his problems.

Summarising evidence from Mr Fellowes’ GP, Dr Jayanta Raychaudhuri, Mrs Goward said: “He had a good therapeutic relationship with his coordinators.

“His engagement was sporadic in the past but he had started to appear more positive.

“He was starting to look at his drink patterns, he was starting to have more abstinence days and he could see the positive effects that was starting to have on his life.

“He had reduced his cocaine use to occasional and reported heroin use was minimal as well, so it does appear he was clearly making some progress and taking some steps to improve his misuse.”

A toxicology report carried out by Dr Stephen Morley following the death found there had been previous use of both cocaine and heroin but both were at “relatively low levels” at the time of death.

“Chronic cocaine use may cause heart damage and lead to sudden arrhythmia even when cocaine levels are low,” said Dr Morley’s report.

The levels of Pregabalin were low and found unlikely to have caused significant side effects.

The post mortem found the cause of death to be cardio-respiratory failure secondary to cocaine toxicity and bronchopneumonia.

Mrs Goward said there was no evidence of Mr Fellowes having taken a deliberate overdose or that anyone else was involved.

The coroner referred to the death as a “lifestyle issue” and then recorded a conclusion of an unintentional “drug-related death” caused by his historic use of drugs.

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