Eastbourne man killed by ‘chronic’ cocaine use

An Eastbourne man died after his chronic cocaine use ‘took its toll’.

Friday, 12th April 2019, 11:56 am
Updated Friday, 12th April 2019, 12:07 pm

Alan Eccles’ frequent consumption of the Class A drug caused a fatal heart problem, an inquest heard on Thursday (March 11).

The grandfather, 54, was found lying dead on the bedroom floor of his home in Michelham Close by his girlfriend, Lesley Pragnell.

In a statement read at the inquest in Eastbourne Town Hall, Lesley said, “I tried for many years to help him but he just didn’t listen. He just became impossible.

An inquest has been held into the death of Alan Eccles

“He worked, got drunk and went to the pub, and went to his room. He couldn’t see what he was doing wrong. He was depressed due to his drinking.

“He had a troubled childhood and lived on the streets from a young age. I think that’s where all the problems began.”

The inquest heard the builder went straight to bed after work on the evening of September 29, 2018, complaining of chest pains.

He had a history of heart complaints, including hypertension, according to a report by his GP Dr Andrew Baldwin. The report also revealed he had historic problems with drinking, and at one stage had admitted to drinking a bottle of vodka every evening.

PC Kayleigh Page was called to the scene when Mr Eccles’ body was discovered the following morning.

She said to the court, “His partner explained he had been feeling unwell and had been unable to work he felt so run down. He had to go to work to earn some money. But after work he took himself straight to his room.

“He would have normally gone to the pub. She said he would go to the pub most nights, and spend money he didn’t necessarily have, run up a tab. She believed there was cocaine use involved.”

The weekend before his death, Mr Eccles had been at a wedding where he had taken cocaine, the inquest was told.

And on the night of his death he had not been drinking but traces of cocaine were found in his bloodstream, according to a post mortem.

The amount found was consistent with recreational drug use, and not in excess enough to suggest an overdose, the coroner said.

Pathologist Doctor Anna Rycroft said the stimulant properties of cocaine can cause fatal cardiac rhythms. She found Mr Eccles died of cardiac fibrosis and cocaine use.

Assistant coroner for East Sussex Chris Wilkinson said, “It’s clear he suffered from what appears to be a heart complaint. It’s clear from his partner not only was he a chronic user of alcohol but drugs on a frequent basis. It’s my view he used them more frequently than people were aware.

“Either the cocaine he used was contaminated or the cumulative effect of cocaine use has taken its toll.

“It’s likely the damage occurred over a period of time and it was such a strain on his heart which, in my view, is what caused his death.”

He expressed his sympathies to Mr Eccles’ family and recorded a conclusion of a drug related death.

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