Death after bid for ‘night’s sleep’

A 59-year-old man who suffered from painful conditions and depression died of natural causes, an inquest has heard.

Malcolm Varney, of Enys Road, was found dead in his home on August 29, 2012 and an inquest into his death was held at Eastbourne Town Hall on Thursday afternoon (January 3).

Coroner Alan Craze heard that Mr Varney, a retired insurance salesman, was being prescribed strong morphine painkillers for a pancreas condition. He was also on other medication for blood pressure and anti-depressants.

Dr Roddy McNicol, Mr Varney’s GP, said, “It can be very depressing to be living with constant pain which he clearly was.”

The inquest heard the prescribed medication found in his system was over a level consistent with a therapeutic level, but the toxicologist Andrew Smith said it was unlikely to have caused his death. In his report, he explained combining the drugs in the quantity they were found would have had an increased sedative effect.

Pathologist Dr Keith Ramesar, who carried out the post mortem, later concluded that the most likely cause of death was hypertensive heart disease which had been undetected by Mr Varney because of the medication he had taken to help himself sleep on the night of his death. Mr Varney’s three daughters explored the possibility that he may have taken his own life with an overdose due to his depression.

Rebecca Williams, one of his daughters, said, “I do not believe he took his own life. I feel it was a cry for help.”

She said there was no suicide letter and she added, “He loved his children and grandchildren more than anything and he wouldn’t have put us through that.”

Victoria Harding, another of his daughters, said he was ‘flippant’ with his medication and would often take extra tablets if he was in pain.

Mr Craze said, “I think pills played their part because they have rendered him much more sedated than he otherwise would have been. I think he has possibly taken too many pills deliberately to get himself a good night’s sleep.”He recorded a verdict of death by natural causes.