A CHRISTCHURCH father who volunteered in the community died of a heroin overdose after relapsing into drug use, an inquest heard.
Trevor Vernon (40) was discovered sitting crossed-legged in Boscombe’s Sovereign Centre car park at around 8.30pm on 18th February.
A passer-by called paramedics who realised Mr Vernon, of Albion Road, was in cardiac arrest and he died shortly after they arrived. A post-mortem examination revealed he had a fatal level of heroin in his blood along with cocaine and alcohol.
In a statement to Bournemouth Coroners’ Court his sister Isabella Carr said she did not believe her brother had intended to kill himself but had instead been “trying to escape the nightmares of his past”.
She said Mr Vernon, originally from Colchester, had been “born into difficult circumstances” as his mother was a widow.
Ms Carr believed he had undiagnosed learning difficulties when growing up and had not done well at school although he was “smart and innovative”.
The inquest heard that Mr Vernon had started smoking cannabis at the age of 12 and by 21 was taking drugs including heroin, crack cocaine, LSD, magic mushrooms and speed.
Despite his addictions his sister revealed her brother had been married and in his 20s had children. By the age of 30 he had managed to get himself off drugs with the assistance of various support agencies and medical help.
But Ms Carr said her “loving and funny” brother had “struggled immensely to overcome the addictions of his past”.
Unable to keep a job, Mr Vernon had worked for many years as a community volunteer, and his sister said she was “proud of what he did for others while being so tormented himself”.
For the last two years of his life he was living with a partner in Christchurch, and Ms Carr said “he was very happy, and she was very good for him”.
But in a statement read out by senior coroner Rachael Griffin Mr Vernon’s fiancée Melanie Chappell revealed how he suffered severe PTSD, including night terrors and panic attacks as a result of his previous drug addiction.
She said he had suffered a few relapses in the year before his death, but he had never attempted suicide or self-harmed while with her as he had in his past.
The inquest heard he had received support from multiple agencies for many years including the Christchurch mental health team and just before his death had started a mindfulness course.
He was also working for a Christchurch community project and had been helping to organise transport for people.
Concluding his death was due to the misuse of drugs, the coroner said Mr Vernon had been “troubled” because of his PTSD and had suffered a relapse on the day of his death using heroin, cocaine and alcohol.