Ex-soldier killed by drugs cocktail

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A WIGAN soldier who developed a Jekyll and Hyde personality after serving in Kosovo died after taking a cocktail of drugs.

Christopher Evans, of Norley Hall, was found dead in his car after fleeing his home following a row with his girlfriend.

The 31-year-old suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD) after leaving the military and had become paranoid his home was being bugged.

An inquest at Bolton Crown Court heard Mr Evans went missing on the evening of September 30 last year after police were called to his Falkirk Grove home for the second time that day, following a bust-up with his partner Michelle Latham.

She feared he had taken a large amount of prescribed tablets and a police hunt was launched.

Katrina Murphy, an acquaintance of Mr Evans, told the inquest that at 2am she saw the dad-of-three’s orange BMW parked behind houses in Avon Road,

On closer inspection, she found him asleep and attempted in vain to wake him. As she had often seen him sleeping in his car, she left him.

However, when she returned at 6am she discovered him unconscious and alerted the emergency services.

He was rushed to Wigan Infirmary and died a short while later.

A post mortem revealed he had died as a result of combined toxicity. The cocktail of drugs included prescribed medication zopiclone and olanzapine, plus cocaine, and anti-depressants, which had not been prescribed to him.

Bolton Coroners’ Court was told that since leaving the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment in 2004, Mr Evans’ mental health had deteriorated dramatically.

His family told the hearing how he would often search his home as well as other relatives’ houses, for codes and listening devices.

Christine Latham, Michelle’s mum, said Mr Evans had a made a number of suicide attempts before and had spoken of a wish “not to be there anymore”.

She said: “He did not talk about hurting himself but he said he didn’t want to be here anymore. He had problems with his sleeping and was skipping his medication.

“He had asked me to sign a piece of paper which stated it was his last will and testament. He said it was in case something happens to him, not because he was going to kill himself. It was all attention seeking.”

On the day before Mr Evans died, on September 30, his concerned girlfriend and her mother went to see his GP, Dr Ian Owen, at Pemberton Surgery, pleading for help and he altered mental health workers the 5 Boroughs NHS Trust.

Later that day, Ms Latham found a number of items around the house and marks on Mr Evans’ body which made her suspect he had attempted suicide.

Concerned for his safety, she called police, who deemed him of sound mind but persuaded him to return to his GP.

Dr Owen told the inquest Mr Evans appeared calm and he made an urgent referral to 5 Boroughs.

But he said Mr Evans appeared reluctant to see a counsellor, claiming they would not understand his combat stress, He then prescribed him two weeks’ worth of olanzapine, which would not be lethal if taken all at once.

Helen Calleja, senior nurse practitioner, said she had a telephone consultation with Mr Evans and arranged for a face to face appointment for two days later.

Following his death, Mr Evans’ family lodged a complaint about the conduct of staff at both police and the 5 Boroughs.

Internal reviews by both parties confirmed that everyone involved in the case had acted appropriately. Area coroner Alan Walsh concluded: “Mr Evans was a difficult man to manage because he was like Jekyll and Hyde.

“He was erratic but was persuasive by saying what people wanted to hear.

“All involved had acted appropriately, using judgements based on information available to them. I cannot be sure he intended to take his life.”

Verdict: Misadventure