Tragic tale of drink and drugs death

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A MAN was found dead after taking a toxic cocktail of drink and drugs.

Steven Shepherd was discovered collapsed and unresponsive at his flat on Siddow Common, Leigh, on January 5 after concerned friends broke into his flat.

Bolton Coroner’s Court heard how the 31-year-old had met up with his father, Joseph Shepherd, two weeks earlier and had been in “the best mood he’d been in for a long time”.

Joseph Shepherd said he had even invited his son to spend Christmas Day with him at his home in Heywood, but then received no response to any calls or messages after December 22.

Steven’s friends, Debra Thompson and Trevor Williams, told how they had become increasingly concerned for his welfare after not seeing him for two weeks. Mr Williams then used a hammer and a pair of pliers to get into the flat where he found him collapsed on the floor.

He also told how Mr Shepherd had taken amphetamine daily when he first met him via the Railway Road project 18 months earlier. He said Mr Shepherd would also take crack cocaine and heroin “on occasion” and had become increasingly difficult to communicate with as his drug-taking escalated.

On one occasion he collapsed and nearly died after taking an overdose while living at the Railway Road hostel. A team leader there also confirmed Mr Shepherd had once used razor blades to cut his wrists but had only suffered superficial injuries.

Pathologist Dr David Barker recorded the cause of death as “the combined toxic effects of morphine (heroin), cocaine, alcohol, amphetamine and methadone”. Police had quickly confirmed there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death.

Coroner Alan Walsh ruled that Mr Shepherd died “from the misuse of illicit drugs with alcohol”. He said: “Steven Shepherd may have been affected by times of sadness in his life and there were times when he made an effort to change - but he couldn’t succeed. He never freed himself from the life he chose to lead.”