A WIGAN dad with a tragic past died after overdosing on his girlfriend’s prescription drugs to ease his pain, an inquest heard.
Bolton Coroner’s Court was told how Michael Heyes, 36, had developed a drink problem after losing his partner, Valerie Mullins, who was also the mother of his son, Anthony, to cancer five years ago.
In the years since Miss Mullins’s death Mr Heyes’s drinking spiralled out of control and he was put through detoxification programmes on three occasions only to relapse soon after.
Mr Heyes, who was a kitchen and bathroom fitter by trade, then started sufferng fits and black-outs related to his alcoholism.
His father, James, told the court that these attacks would happen both when his son did not have a drink as well as when he was drinking excessively.
In the weeks before his death on January 29 this year, Mr Heyes, who had recently moved in to his father’s house on Bluebell Avenue, Beech Hill, had suffered one of these fits and fallen, striking his head on the ground.
He had been out shopping at the time with his girlfriend, Sharon Heyes, who had only been with him for three weeks but had known him for 20 years because she had previously been married to his brother, Christopher.
Miss Heyes said: “On the day of January 28 I spent the day with Mike and during the day he drank about four cans of cider, which he bought with money he had borrowed from his dad.
“When we got back in the afternoon we went to sleep on the sofa for about three hours and then his dad told us to go upstairs to bed when we woke up.”
At some point between then and 7am the following morning when Mr Heyes was found dead, he had taken some Oxycodone painkiller tablets, which had been prescribed to Miss Heyes for medical reasons.
Although Mr Heyes, who had a history of depression, had told his partner that he wanted to take some of the tablets to relieve his pain nobody saw him take them.
Oxycodone is a relatively new entry onto the prescription drugs market but is part of the morphine family.
It was at about 12am that the alarm was first raised. Miss Heyes shouted For James Heyes to come and check on his son in bed because she was worried about him.
But he told the inquest that when he went to see him, his son was still breathing and he thought he had just had too much to drink and so suggested he should sleep it off.
But at 7am when Sharon woke up, she discovered that her partner had stopped breathing and blood was coming out of his nose.
Pathologist Dr David Barker told the hearing that Mr Heyes had died from the toxic affects of the Oxycodone, which is dangerous to those who have not already built up a tolerance to the drug.
He said: “I found 0.68 milligrams per litre of Oxycodone in Mr Heyes’s blood, but because this is a relatively new drug the information about what level is toxic is a little bit scant.
“But in one study of the drug fatalities were observed from 0.40 upwards and in another study the fatality range was between 0.1 and 0.8. So in somebody who takes the drug as a one-off the affects may be significant.”
Deputy Coroner Alan Walsh recorded a verdict of misadventure and offered consolation to the family..
He said: “It is likely that Mr Heyes went to sleep, fell into a coma and died in his sleep, which may help the family to know that he didn’t have any pain before his death.
“Sharon, you must not blame yourself in anyway for what happened. It is important that you know there is nothing you could have done to prevent it happening.
“Mr Heyes chose to chose to take those tablets and wouldn’t have known what the consequences of taking them could be.”