Wigan dad drank alcohol and took heroin before his death, inquest hears

Jason Leigh, 46, was discovered by a friend at a flat in Springfield Street, Swinley, in January this year
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A dad-of-three died after drinking alcohol and taking drugs at his friend’s house in Wigan an inquest has heard.

Jason Leigh, 46, had used drugs ever since leaving school and was never able to overcome his addiction, his mother said.

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Taking substances happened at various periods for the former food processing worker, but it was the “combined effects of heroin and alcohol” which led to his death.

Bolton Coroners' CourtBolton Coroners' Court
Bolton Coroners' Court

During an inquest held at Bolton Coroner’s Court, area coroner for Manchester West Alan Walsh, explained how Mr Leigh’s friend Geoffrey Cunliffe discovered him unresponsive in his flat in Springfield Street, Swinley on January 27.

In a statement, Mr Cunliffe said that Mr Leigh, who was born in Billinge and lived at the Mercure Hotel in Orchard Street, had visited his flat on the day of his death and he had complained of “not feeling himself”.

Suspecting Mr Leigh had been on drugs, Mr Cunliffe went out into the town centre angry about this, as he was “against drugs”.

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Going on to describe the events after this, he said: “I came back at 5pm. I noticed some clothes had moved from a shelf I kept near my bed and I then noticed a needle and it was not mine.

“I then went to check on Jason.”

It was then that Mr Cunliffe discovered Mr Leigh “not breathing” after trying to wake him up.

He phoned the emergency services and the ambulance service pronounced Mr Leigh dead shortly after 6pm.

A statement read out from his mum Mary Leigh during the hearing told of Mr Leigh’s problems with drugs.

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She said: “I was aware that he had been using drugs for various periods of his life.

“There were times when he would live at numerous addresses and, when he came home and lived with me, he managed to get off drugs, but he’d then live with his friends and go back on them.

“I was aware that he had used drugs since he left school.

“I’d not seen him for some time prior to finding out about his death.”

A toxicology report found Mr Leigh, who had a brother William with whom he lived on Wigan Lane but died two years prior to his death, as well as a sister Tracy and a half brother Anthony and half sister Karen, had 130mg of alcohol per decilitre of blood - over the legal drink-drive limit of 80mg. He also had cocaine, diazepam and amphetamines in his system as well as heroin.

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Dr Naveen Sharma, who carried out a post-mortem examination, said Mr Leigh’s cause of death was a mixture of morphine, heroin and alcohol toxicity.

Recording a conclusion that Mr Leigh’s death was drug and alcohol-related, coroner Mr Walsh said: “It was a combination of alcohol and heroin which caused Mr Leigh’s death.

“It is very sad that a man of the age of 46 has died from drink and drugs which are extremely dangerous.

“His mum and family tried to break his addiction and give him help and support but he wasn’t able to overcome his addiction to drugs.”

Help is out there

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Wigan borough benefits from some excellent drug and alcohol services.

Among those are We Are With You in Wigan and Leigh, which helps people manage, reduce or stop their drug (including prescription drugs) or alcohol use.

Addicts can phone the service or use their online chat to speak to one of its trained experts.

You can also talk to them if you’re worried about someone else’s drug or alcohol use, rather than your own.

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Call 01942 827979 or visit the website of We Are With You to get the help and support needed.

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