Drugs cocktail killed depressed junkie

THE body of a 24-year-old man was found by a group of teenagers playing football, a Chesterfield inquest heard.

John Steven Baxter - who had been jailed five years ago for drug dealing - was found on a grass embankment littered with empty tablet bottles and blister packs and a wine bottle.

Blood tests showed he had died after taking a cocktail of pills prescribed for epilepsy, depression and schizophrenia, together with a moderate amount of alcohol.

"The drug levels weren't sky-high but they were higher than therapeutic use and their combination would have caused death," said pathologist Dr Karen Ramsden, adding the drugs might have caused heart or respiratory failure.

Mr Baxter, of South Crescent, Duckmanton, was last seen by his mother Margaret Baxter and girlfriend Elizabeth Brown five days before his body was discovered near woodland off Markham Road, Duckmanton.

Mrs Baxter, of Duckmanton, told the inquest he began taking drugs at school and was locked up five years ago for dealing. She said: "He was totally different after he came out of prison.

"He still used drugs after he came out."

He borrowed 1.10 from her on April 15 and said he would see her later but that was the last time she saw him alive.

She added: "He got very depressed sometimes but I never thought he would do anything like that."

Miss Brown, of Inkersall, had been seeing Mr Baxter for six months and knew he was prescribed medication for schizophrenia.

He had a two-week spell in a mental health unit last October.

She said he seemed happier after finding a job with Groundwork Creswell at Clowne but he sometimes "disappeared for days at a time" after they argued and had talked about suicide during big rows.

Mr Baxter had complained of chest pains and nausea a week before his death and was due to undergo a hernia operation at the end of April.

"When I last saw him he seemed argumentative and not very happy," said Miss Brown, adding he had not threatened to harm himself on that occasion and she never took his threats seriously.

North Derbyshire coroner Tom Kelly recorded an open verdict after hearing Mr Baxter had not left a note or mentioned suicide shortly before his death.

"His intentions may seem obvious but it could have been a cry for help.

"Also, he may have taken some tablets and, not knowing what he was doing, took more tablets," said the coroner.