Drugs death mystery of dad-of-three

A GRIEVING Sheffield family has been left without 'comfort or relief' - after an inquest failed to discover how a dad-of-three with no history of drug abuse suffered a fatal heroin overdose.

Shaun O'Brien died in January, aged 41, from a "lethal cocktail" of heroin and other drugs, the inquest heard.

Pathologist, Dr Elizabeth Lim, said he had a needle mark in the crook of his arm, and heroin, cocaine, alcohol and anti-depressants were found in his body.

But Deputy Coroner Judith Naylor found Shaun, of Vikinglea Close, Manor, would not have known how to inject himself or source the drugs.

He died in the flat of neighbour Jamie Dring, also of Vikinglea Close.

Mr Dring, who now lives in Liverpool, admitted a history of heroin addiction, but said he had not taken drugs for several months.

He said that on January 18 this year, he fell asleep on his sofa after a night of drinking with Shaun.

When he woke up the next morning, Shaun was on the floor, "snoring heavily". But, after leaving him for a couple of hours, he came back to find Shaun was dead.

He then "ran away from the situation" leaving the body for nine hours before calling the police that evening.

A syringe plunger was found in a bin in Mr Dring's flat - but no heroin, needle, or any other equipment was ever discovered, so Mrs Naylor adjourned the inquest for further investigations.

When it resumed, former heroin user Robert Matthew Watson told the court Shaun and Mr Dring had knocked at his door late on January 18 looking for drugs.

Despite repeated warnings from Mrs Naylor, and pleadings from Shaun's family to give more information, Mr Watson said he knew nothing more.

He claimed to have sent them away empty handed - and could not say where they might have got the heroin.

Recording an open verdict, Mrs Naylor said: "I am satisfied Shaun was injected by someone - but by whom we do not know.

"Jamie Dring was far more involved with the obtaining of drugs than he would have us believe.

"But if people are not prepared to divulge the information we are left with this very unsatisfactory position."

She passed her sincerest condolences on to Shaun's family, and lamented the "vicious and pernicious" effects of heroin on users and their families.

Shaun's sister, Louise Johnson, said: "Today's verdict brings no comfort or relief to the devastation and grief caused by Shaun's unexpected death.

"Although not without his problems with alcoholism, Shaun has never been involved in the consumption of drugs.

"Shaun was a caring and loving man with a generous heart. He will be sadly missed and will always be in our thoughts."

Shaun leaves behind parents William and Beryl, sister Louise, brother David, and three children - Sean, 16, Dayna, 15 and Cauley, 13.

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