Lonely warehouse worker Lee Cotterell's drug related death in Chorley flat

The death of a Lancashire warehouse worker who got lonely during lockdown was drug related, a coroner has concluded.

By Fiona Finch
Monday, 10th January 2022, 6:26 pm

Lee Andrew Cotterell,33, of Railway Road, Adlington, near Chorley, died on January 9, 2021 at a flat in Chorley.

The inquest at Preston coroner's court was told that Lee,33, collapsed and died at Chorley House, Hollinshead Street.

Post mortem reports revealed a mixture of cocaïne and heroin in his system. Alcohol and traces of amphetamine and prescription medications were also present in his body at the time of death.

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The Coroner's Court at Preston where Lee's inquest was held today

The court was told that Mr Cotterell had met up with friends in Chorley town centre. Drugs were purchased and the men then went to Hollinshead Street where three of the men took drugs intravenously. Lee and another man collapsed, both falling half on and off a bed. The alarm was raised after a thud was heard and those in the flat and and neighbours rushed to try to save the men by giving them a drug which can reverse the effects of an overdose. But Lee, despite CPR resuscitation also being attempted before ambulance and police arrived, could not be revived.

Pathologist Dr Alison Armour's report said the medical cause of death was intoxication by alcohol and complex drug misuse. After reviewing medical reports Area Coroner Chris Long said it was not an obvious overdose which led to his death, but a mixture of drugs and alcohol which led to "a complex drug reaction".

After delivering his conclusion of "drug related death" Mr Long told Lee's mother, brother and two friends who attended the hearing: "I'm really sorry. This is a drug case where there isn't an obvious overdose which has been taken. It's a sad loss. I'm genuinely very sorry."

The inquest also heard that there had been "some suggestion paramedics were told someone else had injected Lee" and two of the group had been arrested following the death. They denied administering the drugs to Lee and the inquest was told there was no indication on Lee's body that he had not administered the drug himself or evidence of violence.

Detective Inspector George Binns told the court: "I made the decision no charges would follow because we didn't have any evidence to suggest anyone else was responsible."

Lee's brother Martin asked in court: "The needle that killed Lee wasn't found. What efforts were made to find that?" and Lee's mother Mandy asked; "Did you challenge witnesses whether they removed it?"

Det Inspector George Binns said three needles were recovered at the scene and there was no suggestion anyone had taken anything from the scene, but added: "That's not to say that's not happened." He said the other men would have been challenged about what happened on the night of Lee's death.

In a witness statement to the police one said he knew Lee had injected a couple of times, but not regularly. Another of the group said he assumed Lee had not injected before as he heard someone asking "What does it feel like and didn't know what to do."

Police said Lee "was not a regular known drug user" and a report from his GP said Lee's records showed some reference in 2019 to historical drug abuse.

Concluding that "Lee died as the result of drug related death" the coroner had noted: "Mr Cotterell had spent the day with a number of associates...we heard that Mr Cotterell intended to take illicit drugs. Mr Cotterell was seen to become unresponsive following the taking of drugs."

The alcohol in Lee's system would have been sufficient "to show some signs of intoxication in an average social drinker."

After the inquest Lee's mother Mandy said:"He got lonely in lockdown."