Preston man, 26, driven to his accidental death by sleeping problems inquest hears
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An inquest heard scrapyard worker Jack Emmett was found with an unusually high level of the heart drug propranolol in his system after he collapsed and died.
Lancashire’s Senior Coroner, Dr James Adeley said he could find no explanation, other than he helped himself to his partner’s supply of beta blocker tablets in the hope it would help him get a better night’s sleep, but overdosed.
The hearing was told Jack, of Watling Street Road, Preston, had been suffering from nightmares and sleep paralysis – a condition which causes a temporary loss of muscle control just after falling asleep or before waking up.
On the day of his death he and his partner had been enjoying drinks in the garden with friends and Jack had seemed fine. He had been play fighting with his mate Darren and the two were “having a laugh.”
Sammy-Jo Leigh said she had been prescribed propranolol for anxiety and her tablets were stored on a shelf at the top of her wardrobe. She was unaware Jack had taken any that night before he complained of feeling unwell, was struggling to stand up and was having difficulty speaking.
“We thought he had maybe had more to drink than we thought,” she told the inquest. But five minutes after they put him to bed he started to have a seizure. Paramedics arrived quickly and he was taken to hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
Sammy-Jo said she had been prescribed propranolol for anxiety but had been reducing her dose because she was feeling better. It was stored high on a shelf in the bedroom, out of reach of children.
Asked by the coroner if Jack would normally take her medication she said “No.” She added: “I don’t know why he would take it. He wasn’t an anxious person. He didn’t have anything on his mind that would make him worried. But he was suffering from sleep problems.”
Asked if he would have understood the risks of taking propranolol, she replied: “I don’t know, but I would have thought so.”
DI Paul Price told the inquest Jack’s friends had been interviewed and they said he was “quite a positive person with no issues.” They had enjoyed a good day in the garden drinking.
Coroner Dr James Adeley said: “This was a tragic death of a young man who has apparently taken propranolol, with the only explanation being he was suffering from night-time bad dreams and sleep paralysis.
“There was no indication that he was in any way depressed or having any thoughts of self-harm. Therefore it appears that he was taking tablets that weren’t prescribed for him in an attempt to deal with his night-time problems and therefore he wouldn’t have received the warnings about taking them.
“He did not intend any of the outcomes and this is purely an accident from him not understanding the risks that the medication poses in overdose.”
He recorded a conclusion of accidental death.