Eastbourne man, 29, in ‘tragic’ overdose death

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An Eastbourne man described as “kind” but troubled died after an overdose of illicit drugs, an inquest heard on Thursday (August 22).

29-year-old Jonathan Beland had struggled for many years with mental health problems and addiction.

The builder, of South Street, died in April this year after injecting a fatal dose of heroin, in what the coroner called a “tragic and sad case”.

In a family statement read at the Eastbourne Town Hall inquest, his mother Lisa Beland said, “He was a very kind person but he had an addictive personality, he never set himself boundaries.

“He enjoyed having a bet, but stayed until his money went. He was a very troubled young man. Unfortunately, with his mental health and illegal drugs he was very depressed most of the time.”

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On the night of his death, he had been visiting a friend in Cavendish Place. Ian Fairweather said he arrived with a syringe full of brown liquid he believed to be heroin, and later collapsed.

Emergency services were called but despite their efforts Mr Beland was pronounced dead at the scene on April 7 this year.

A toxicology report found he had 0.3mg of morphine in his blood, as well as traces of heroin, Valium, cocaine, and mirtazapine, an antidepressant.

Toxicologist Amber Crampton said the levels of morphine in his system were consistent with severe and even fatal toxicity – particularly as it had come from heroin.

Mr Beland had suffered with mental health issues from a young age, according to a statement from his GP.

He was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2011 and had a pattern of drug misuse starting from taking cannabis in his early teenage years.

The inquest heard his main addiction was cocaine, which he would spend around £150 a week on. But he would inject it into his system with heroin, a mix known as ‘speedballing’, to cope with the first drug’s comedown.

Coroner Alan Craze said, “It’s a very tragic and sad case. The damage was done in his teens, the dice are cast. There’s a general acceptance the use particularly of cannabis [in teenage years] will lead to mental illness.

“As soon as you come onto the addictive drugs the chances of coming off them are slim.”

He recorded a conclusion Mr Beland died of dependence on drugs.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, Talk to Frank may be able to help. Visit talktofrank.com