Robbie Millward: Coroner warns of cocaine danger

Robbie Millward
Robbie Millward
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A CORONER has warned of the dangers of taking drugs after an inquest heard the son of former Wigan Warriors boss Ian Millward died after a heart attack as a consequence of taking cocaine.

At an inquest in Bolton, Deputy Coroner Alan Walsh recorded a narrative verdict into the death of Robert Millward 19. Mr Walsh said: “Mr Millward died as a consequence of misuse of cocaine, exacerbated by a naturally occurring disease.”

The hearing was told that Robbie, of Lowton, was found by his mother Leanne shortly after midday on February 19 .

Mrs Millward said she had spoken to her son briefly that morning before going to the local shop, and he had asked her to get him a drink.

When she returned 10 to 15 minutes later he was found to be unresponsive. Mrs Millward a former nurse said: “When I found him I already knew that the prognosis was not good”

Robbie later died in hospital with his family around him after medical treatment failed to resuscitate him.

A post mortem examination revealed that Mr Millward had residual levels of cocaine in his blood and had evidence of a chest infection. Doctor Angelia Ong, of Bolton Royal Hospital said: “I could tell his heart was not normal and that it was a complex problem.”

The hearing was told that in the weeks leading up to his death Mr Millward had suffered with a chest infection and had been prescribed with antibiotics by his GP. However, the illness had not kept him from being off work or socialising.

The night before his death he received a phone call from friend Joshua Gannon and the pair arranged to go out in Leigh. Mr Millward was out between midnight and 4am he spoke to his mother on his return home and showed no signs of illness.

His friend, Christopher Mayren told the hearing that he had seen Robbie that night and although he knew that his friend had taken cocaine in the past he was not a regular user and he was not aware that he had taken any that night.

Doctor Survarna, Consultant Histo Pathologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospital told the court that Mr Millward’s heart had swelling and signs of inflammation that may have been caused by intermittent drug use.

He said: “Cocaine is toxic to the heart. He had an unfortunate side effect to this drug that might not have affected someone else in the same way. The heart does not repair itself, in common terms it is like a Mexican wave in a stadium if the person taps the person next to them to start the wave. But then if the person or cell next to them is damaged it can affect the whole heart. A small dose although rarely and intermittent can still be toxic.”

Mr Walsh concluded a narrative verdict due to the misuse of cocaine which was exacerbated by the naturally occurring chest infection.

He said: “The message must go out loud and clear: cocaine must not be used because it causes a danger to life. It causes damage to the heart that cannot be restored later in one’s life.