Drink and drug cocktail took life of ex-plasterer

Bolton Coroner's Court
Bolton Coroner's Court
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A WIGAN man who appeared to be getting his life back on track after admitting drink problems died after ingesting a lethal cocktail of heroin and alcohol.

Assistant coroner Rachel Griffin recorded a narrative verdict for the death of Christopher Keogh at the inquest held in Bolton.

The 35-year-old’s family had been forced to wait more than a week to learn the verdict, having heard much of the evidence on Wednesday September 23.

That was because vital witness Adrian Lawton failed to turn up and so the inquest was adjourned.

At its resumption Mr Lawton did appear and said he had stayed over at Mr Keogh’s house in Astley on Tuesday June 23 this year and the following morning, he woke up to find his friend had already been drinking.

He said Mr Keogh left the house early to buy heroin and when he returned they both smoked it.

Mr Lawton left at around 10am, with Mr Keogh sitting on the sofa and he appeared to be well.

He then rang Mr Keogh at around tea time but there was no answer.

Mr Lawton returned with a friend at around 10pm to find the former plasterer unresponsive on the couch.

They called an ambulance and paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.

A post-mortem examination and toxicology tests concluded that Mr Keogh had high levels of morphine in his blood, which suggested he had injected the drug but, puzzling, there were no injection marks.

A statement from Greater Manchester Police confirmed there was no third party involvement in the death or evidence of trauma.

At the hearing last week, Mr Keogh’s dad Anthony said that he suspected his son took drugs, such as cannabis, cocaine and heroin, but he had always denied it when confronted.

Some members of his family were in a state of disbelief about the revelation of heroin use.

His ex-partner Kathryn Colley said: “I didn’t know the extent of his drug use.

“But I know that he really wanted to sort himself out.

“He was okay when he lived with me. He had one lager in the morning and four at night.

“It was bad influences which came back into his life.

“Mr Lawton had a really big impact on Chris’s life.”

Ms Griffin, concluding, said Mr Keogh had battled with a dependence on alcohol for 10 years and his consumption had increased.

But he had sought help from Greater Manchester West Mental Health Trust and Addaction and had been referred for a residential detox at a hospital to help him get rid of his addiction.

Ms Griffin said: “Despite his problems, professionals described him as very amenable and polite and his dad said he was happy-go-lucky.

“He was a gentleman who was on the verge of getting the help he so much needed and wanted.

“It’s so tragic he was taken in this sudden way.

“It’s important to warn others about the use of heroin and dangers of using it with other illicit substances which carry very grave risks to those who don’t understand the consequences.

“I hope people learn from Chris’s tragic death about the risks associated with drug and heroin use.”