Wigan cheerleading coach 'overwhelmed' by mental illness when he died

A cheerleading coach died at the age of 37 while “overwhelmed” by mental illness, a coroner has ruled.
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Lee Midgley was found at home by Mark Powell, his partner of 17 years, on November 12 and paramedics confirmed he had died.

There was an outpouring of grief for Lee, who grew up in Aspull, attended Rose Bridge High School and was a coach with Wigan Vipers cheerleading team.

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An inquest at Bolton Coroner’s Court heard Lee struggled with mental health problems and was diagnosed with ADHD just 18 months before he died.

Lee Midgley had been a coach at Wigan Vipers cheerleading team since 2016Lee Midgley had been a coach at Wigan Vipers cheerleading team since 2016
Lee Midgley had been a coach at Wigan Vipers cheerleading team since 2016
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He became addicted to painkiller codeine, following an injury while training as a dancer, and sometimes used illicit drugs.

Lee was also grieving for his father Tony Midgley, who died three months earlier. He used to own Maximes nightclub in Wigan and Mr Earl’s Sports and Social Club in Ince.

The court was told Lee had a mental health breakdown a few years ago, when he had psychotic and paranoid episodes and hallucinations.

Lee Midgley with partner Mark PowellLee Midgley with partner Mark Powell
Lee Midgley with partner Mark Powell
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He was referred to a community mental health team in Salford, where he lived with Mark, in 2020 and prescribed anti-psychotic medication.

Lee had several appointments with a doctor in psychiatry over the following months, when he also complained of disassociation, poor concentration and insomnia.

By June 2021, his mental health was improving and he reported being compliant with his medication. He was discharged from the service that December.

But he was referred back to mental health services in 2022.

Mental health nurse Sheila Carter told the inquest his mood was low during an assessment on October 20, he was anxious about work, struggling to sleep, overthinking and grieving his father. He denied having suicidal thoughts or psychosis.

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Lee was prescribed anti-depressants, referred to a service for more support and a follow-up appointment was made.

Ms Carter said he spoke about his close relationship with his partner and Lee knew where to turn if he needed more help.

She said: “There was absolutely nothing at the time of assessment to indicate that he would take his life.”

Lee, who worked as an IT trainer for Salford Royal Hospital, was diagnosed with ADHD in 2021, with the inquest hearing an assessment should have been done when he was a child.

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He was diagnosed privately and then sought help from the NHS, but a referral to a specialist service was rejected as it did not have capacity for more patients.

Lee did begin a medication trial and reported it was helping.

Dr Jessica Greaves, a GP at Lower Broughton Health Centre in Salford, told the inquest Lee was already prescribed codeine when he joined the practice in 2014.

He was given repeated prescriptions over the following years for Zapain and co-codamol – both of which contain codeine and paracetamol – after complaining of various physical ailments.

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But in 2021 he admitted he was addicted to codeine and the practice stopped prescribing it, Dr Greaves said.

The inquest also heard Lee had tests for a neurological condition, but it was determined he did not need treatment.

Coroner Peter Sigee said it was not clear he intended to end his life, so he concluded Lee died by hanging while “overwhelmed” by mental illness.

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