Homeless man Barrie Williams' drug death 'unintended and unwanted'

A homeless man died after taking a fatal drugs overdose while staying in a St Albans based night shelter, an inquest heard today.

Barrie Williams, 27, was found dead by members of staff from Open Door, while staying at the Bricket Road shelter for a few days on September 13 last year.

During an inquest at Hatfield Coroners Court, coroner Edward Thomas ruled Mr Williams’ death as misadventure and said although Mr Williams’ took a risk, his death was not suicide but "unintended and unwanted".

A post mortem examination revealed that Mr Williams, who was originally from Liverpool, had taken a concoction of prescribed sleeping and therapy tablets, morphine and cocaine before he died.

Mr Thomas said Mr Williams died in his sleep and because his respiratory system was compressed by the combination of drugs, this would have caused his lungs and heart to fail.

He stressed that it was a misuse of morphine because it was not Mr Williams’ medication and instead somebody else’s prescribed medication.

Mr Thomas said: "This was a misuse of morphine and it was somebody else’s prescribed medication.

"This can be fatal for someone who is not used to it. It is not just the type of medication, it is the amounts."

Mr Williams became homeless after moving out of a flat in Hemel Hempstead. Unemployed at the time of his death, Mr Williams formerly worked as a Health and Safety officer. He had moved from Liverpool after having a "traumatic time in life", which affected his sleep.

The court heard evidence from a member of staff who saw Mr Williams the night before he died.

Mr Williams was late back to the shelter and received a verbal warning. People using the facilities have a duty to inform the charity when they wish to secure a room.

Mr Thomas said the member of staff explained Mr Williams "didn’t seem his chatty self" but had kindly brought her a chocolate bar from the vending machine, because it was her last day at Open Door.

Mr Thomas concluded: "Barrie spoke to his family in Liverpool and he was in good spirits. He was expecting to see them in the following weeks.

"This is sad because he may have had civility in Liverpool.

"Everyone spoke very highly of him and everyone was very fond of him.

"It is important that you remember him for not how he died but how he lived." Mr Thomas recorded a verdict of misadventure.

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