A Carnforth councillor who died after a heroin and drink binge went into a “spiral of despair” due to a family tragedy and double break of his arm.
George Askew was found dead in his bed by his fiancee after taking heroin and drinking beer and almost an entire bottle of wine, an inquest heard.
Mr Askew, 32, was a rising star of the Conservative party and a prominent Brexit campaigner, as well as a Lancaster city councillor for Carnforth and Millhead.
The inquest heard he died from bronchopneumonia, caused by taking heroin.
Andrew Stephenson, MP for Pendle and a close friend of Mr Askew, said: “I think it just goes to show in some ways how a family tragedy with the death of his mother followed by a double break of his arm can lead someone into a spiral of despair and to turn to illegal drugs.
“What we have heard at the inquest does not change my opinion of George, he was still my best friend.
“He was an amazing talent and a dedicated local councillor.
“It’s sad that George, who had such a promising future, did not feel that he could reach out to his family and those around him who loved him.
“I think some of the reporting makes out that George had a hedonistic lifestyle.
“Don’t get me wrong, he enjoyed life like we all do, but none of us were aware of this. We knew George had issues but none of us realised just how desperate the situation was.
“He had a double break of his arm which was healing and then he slipped in the kitchen and had another double break in different places and he was unable use his arm for months.
“He couldn’t go to the gym, which was his go to when he was stressed, and he couldn’t drive for months which made it 10 times worse.
“The irony is that I saw him a week before his death and the arm had healed and he was looking as fit and as healthy as he had done for a while.
“But I think it is quite common with depression that you don’t know what is going on under the surface.”
Mr Askew was discovered by his fiancee, Laura Makinson, at their home in Warton in February.
An inquest was told he went to bed in the spare room after drinking and Miss Makinson checked on him before leaving the house in the morning. When she returned at around 1pm he wasn’t breathing.
She told the court Mr Askew had used cocaine and smoked heroin in the past.
A police officer told the court a small, blue tube was found in his dressing gown pocket containing traces of the drug.
Dr Sarah Hauxwell, a pathologist of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust, said morphine and traces of heroin were found in Mr Askew’s body.
Miss Makinson posted on Facebook at the time of Mr Askew’s death that she was devastated at the loss of her “best friend, future husband, my George”.
A former Lancaster Grammar School pupil, Mr Askew earned early political success after he moved to Pendle in early 2007 to become an election agent.
In this role, George helped Andrew Stephenson become MP for the town in the 2010 General Election. He later went on to be elected onto Pendle Borough Council and Lancashire County Council.
He was also appointed a regional director of the Vote Leave campaign and won a byelection to become a Lancaster city councillor only three months before his death.