Father from Wigan died after taking drugs bought on the internet

Bolton Coroners Court
Bolton Coroners Court
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A father-of-three in chronic pain died after buying drugs over the internet, an inquest heard.


Bolton Coroner’s Court was told Stephen Kelly had health issues including type-one diabetes and problems with his hips.

He used crutches to walk, his house in Bamfurlong was adapted to meet his needs and he was awaiting two hip replacements.

His mother Beryl Taylor said he was “always complaining of being in pain” and often took more medication than recommended.

The 40-year-old was using medication prescribed by his GP, including fentanyl patches to ease his pain.

But the inquest heard he also took other drugs, including heroin, methadone, medication prescribed to other people and drugs bought online.

Mr Kelly spent February 16 with his mother and his three sons, who were visiting Wigan during the school half-term.

Shannon Evans, who lived with Mr Kelly at his bungalow on Enid Place, said they took a variety of drugs that evening, including methadone bought on the internet.

She thought he was acting “a bit strange” when he went to bed and gave him a chocolate bar, suspecting it was a hypoglycaemic attack due to diabetes.

But when she woke in the early hours of February 17, he was unresponsive and she dialled 999. Paramedics attended but found Mr Kelly had died.

Tests carried out after his death revealed a variety of medications in his body, including drugs prescribed to him and methadone.

The combination of drugs, notably methadone, fentanyl and alprazolam (also known as Xanax), was thought to have caused his death, with broncho-pneumonia a contributory factor.
Coroner Simon Nelson said he did not believe Mr Kelly intended to take his own life.

He said he had “a number of positives” in his life, including his children who were “very special to him”.

He believed the “vast majority of self-medicating” by Mr Kelly was an attempt to relieve his pain.

But Mr Nelson continued: “The difficulty in this instance, as is all too obvious I’m afraid not just with your son Stephen, is that certain medications, and in particular controlled and what is unlawful medication when it is purchased in this way, is all too easily available from either those who peddle it for financial gain or who push it onto the internet, where they can remain virtually anonymous and they do not safely receive justice for the repercussions and the misery which they cause.

“They are the culprits who have brought about sadly the death of your son.”

He ruled that Mr Kelly’s death was drug-related.