A YOUNG dad died after taking fatal doses of his terminally-ill father’s medication, a South Tyneside inquest heard.
Jamie Wright, 22, accidentally overdosed on morphine and methadone, having never taken them before.
It is thought he naively took the drugs after having trouble sleeping.
His father, Shaun, saw him downstairs at their home at 2am – two hours after Jamie had gone upstairs to bed.
Just over seven hours later, the dad-of-two was found dead in bed by his partner, at their home in Cedar Grove, Cleadon Park, South Shields.
Police investigators discovered an amount of the drugs missing from his dad’s prescribed amount.
At South Tyneside Coroner’s Court, pathologist Gemma Kemp said a post-mortem examination found evidence of minor liver damage from alcohol abuse.
But it was huge levels of the two drugs, found in toxicology tests, that had proved fatal.
Dr Kemp added: “A really significant finding was morphine concentration that was at a potentially fatal level, even for someone who was a regular user.
“The methadone was also at a potentially fatal level. These are opiate drugs that help breathing to slow down. But breathing can slow down and you can go into a coma.
“They give pain relief, but can be abused because they give a high and can slow the brain down.
“From the levels I have seen, I am confident that this was the cause of death.” She confirmed evidence from Mr Wright’s partner that he had been breathing heavily while asleep, which was typical of an overdose of these drugs.
Also found in his system were safe levels of the drugs mirtazapine, clomipramine and tramadol – prescribed to treat depression and pain.
The court heard the night before he died former Mortimer Comprehensive School pupil Mr Wright played happily in his garden with his children, aged three and one.
He had been a heavy drinker but had taken steps to curtail his habit.
Despite drinking hours before his death, on July 10 last year, tests showed only a small amount of alcohol present.
South Tyneside coroner Terence Carney said there was no evidence Mr Wright had intended to harm himself.
Of the drugs, he said: “The effect is that they can compromise the part of the brain that keeps us breathing.
“Unfortunately, you go into a sleep, a coma. Death was caused by morphine and methadone.
“He may well have taken these thinking that it would give him the opportunity to go to sleep, but not such a deep sleep.”
He added: “It seems he had taken some of his father’s drugs. I’m thinking that’s where they came from.
“The police found that some were missing, not a great number, but enough to cause the readings we have seen.
“I see this as a tragic accident and that he has done something, and he wouldn’t have intended this outcome at all. This was a tragic error.”
n Verdict: Misadventure