Man tried to kick drugs months before his death, inquest told

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Roderick Martin
The coroner’s court at Winchester

A COMBINATION of drugs, alcohol and pneumonia caused the death of a Ringwood man found unresponsive in his home five days after Christmas, an inquest heard.

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Roderick Martin (54), a long-time user of drugs and alcohol, had been trying to wean himself off substances in the months before his passing, Winchester Coroners’ Court heard.

He was found unconscious by his partner Gaynor Davis on 30th December at his Gorley Road home and despite an ambulance arriving swiftly he could not be saved. Police investigated and confirmed there were no suspicious circumstances.

Tests showed he had an alcohol level double the legal limit for driving. He also had traces of morphine and methadone in his system and both drugs were at levels that were “on the border” of therapeutic but known to cause death.

Mr Martin had been suffering “severe” emphysema and bronchial pneumonia, it was found.

Coroner Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp revealed Mr Martin declined an offer from Ms Davis to have Christmas dinner with her as he did not feel like eating and wanted to stay at home.

She visited him and he complained of feeling pain in his left hand side but would not go to the doctor, and when she looked in on him on December 28th she found Mr Martin intoxicated and in the bath. She next checked on him on the 30th and found him unresponsive.

The inquest heard Mr Martin went to his Ringwood GP in January 2019 and was noted to be “anxious” about changes to the benefit system that could have affected the support he was given.

He had also spent up to a week at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital sometime in 2019 with suspected pancreatitis, the inquest heard, and suffered breathing problems and pains in his chest.

Mr Martin had said he wanted to cease substance abuse and attended some support sessions. During one of those he said he “had to sort something major”, although he would not elaborate on what that was, and admitted to feeling “low”.

Summing up, the coroner said Mr Martin’s death was drug and alcohol related, since he had never given an indication he wished to take his own life. The pneumonia was also an “important factor”, she said, noting Mr Martin’s physical health had been “deteriorating”.

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