Drug death in Preston car park of military veteran Simon Wilson

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A Preston man who had served in the armed forces overdosed on heroin and was found dead in the street.

An inquest was told that Simon Donald Wilson, 52, formerly of Tag Croft, Ingol, was discovered slumped over a car park fence on Kent Street, Preston on April 23 this year.

Area Coroner Richard Taylor, referring to a statement by Detective Inspector Paul Whitehead, said it was known Simon had gone to a local food shop and then walked across the car park behind a van. Mr Taylor continued: "It appears he had then injected some drug into his groin and collapsed over railings by the wall. He was found by a member of the public."

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The ambulance service was contacted and a needle was found by Simon's right hand.

The Coroners Court in Fulwood, PrestonThe Coroners Court in Fulwood, Preston
The Coroners Court in Fulwood, Preston
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The Coroner, speaking at Preston Coroners Court yesterday, said that: "The contents of the syringe were tested and they showed residues of caffeine, paracetamol and diamorphine."

He said consultant radiologist Dr Samuel Beardmore had advised there was no natural cause of death. A toxicology expert found evidence of a "potentially fatal use of heroin" shortly before Simon's death and evidence of the use of other drugs. But prior use of methadone and cocaine was unlikely to have contributed to Simon's death.

The inquest heard evidence from registered mental health nurse Alison Foreman, team manager for the Liaision and Diversion Service which is based in local courts and police custody facilities. She said Simon had first been referred to the service in July 2018. On February 28 this year he "had been referred by a local custody sergeant who had identified on the police risk assessment that he was a military veteran."

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When he had presented in 2018 he had a history of heroin addiction which he wanted to address, but had been unable to commit to appointments due to his withdrawal state.

Simon had had some engagement with the service again in 2019 and was advised on his options. Alison said when she visited Simon in a police cell in February he had consented to an assessment by the service and she said: "He was lucid, coherent, understanding where he was and why. He explained he has acquired a brain injury following a surgical procedure."

She said he been "polite and pleasant in manner" and advised her he had been dependent on alcohol for about 18 months and had been on and off opiates for about 30 years. He had managed to sustain a 12 week period of abstinence. He told her he was smoking heroin but not injecting the drug. He had left the army in1992 after serving for five years. She said he had no phone number so it had been left that he would either contact their offices or go to a police station to make a follow up appointment.

He contacted the service 11 days later and that had been their last contact with him and they had not known where he was. Alison said he had talked about sleeping on the street and she understood he had been unhappy where he was staying and he was advised to contact the council. She said: "We were pleased that he did eventually contact our services and he had agreed that he would be available for a phone call the following day."

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Simon had also contacted his GP on March 9 and was offered advice about opiate dependency. Mr Taylor said it was clear he had been struggling with his drug addiction: "It appears that he was trying to get some help. It appears he was at the time, certainly in March, more anxious to seek help...the evidence I've heard is that he had a long standing drug addiction."

Noting there was no evidence of him being suicidal Mr Taylor said he was returning a conclusion of drug related death and that Simon "died on Kent Street in Preston having ingested an excess of drugs."

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