Father overdosed on drugs

A FATHER-of-two was served divorce papers just hours before taking a “lethal cocktail” of drink and drugs, an inquest has revealed.Kevin Wheeler died after drinking six cans of beer and injecting himself with two doses of heroin in March 2004.

A FATHER-of-two was served divorce papers just hours before taking a “lethal cocktail” of drink and drugs, an inquest has revealed.

Kevin Wheeler died after drinking six cans of beer and injecting himself with two doses of heroin in March 2004.

His friend, David Byrne, later pleaded guilty to supplying heroin to the 36-year-old. He served three hours in a police cell.

After the inquest in Bury St Edmunds yesterday, Mr Wheeler's devastated widow, Maria, said she was relieved the matter had been finalised, but added she was still angry with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for the sentence handed to Byrne.


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Greater Suffolk Coroner Peter Dean heard how Mr Wheeler, an electrician from Beauford Road in Ingham, was discovered slumped outside the Quaker Meeting House in Bury, with a syringe in his hand. Attempts by paramedics to revive him proved unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

The inquest heard how he had been served with divorce papers earlier that day from his wife Maria.

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Det Supt Simon Curtis said Byrne initially claimed he had come across Mr Wheeler's body and called for an ambulance, but later admitted to having been with him when he fell to the floor after injecting heroin.

The inquest heard that Byrne, of no fixed address but formally of Tayfen Road in Bury, had earlier that day prepared heroin in the toilets of the town's Tesco supermarket, which he then gave to Mr Wheeler.

After injecting the drug, Mr Wheeler stated he wanted some more despite being warned against it as it was the first time he had used heroin, and because he had been drinking.

Byrne admitted giving Mr Wheeler the first dose of heroin, but claimed the second syringe containing the drug that ultimately killed him had been obtained from a third party.

The inquest heard that Byrne, who was released on police bail to appear in court in April 2004, was then re-arrested for breaching the conditions of his bail after he was seen talking to two witnesses involved in the case.

But when he appeared at Sudbury Magistrates Court for breach of bail, the bench accepted a guilty plea to the charge of supplying the first dose of heroin to Mr Wheeler, and was sentenced to a day's imprisonment, of which he served three hours.

“I did not understand why that happened and it caused much debate, but it happened and it could not be altered,” said Det Supt Curtis.

“The CPS and police have looked at this in detail, and I am sure lessons will have been learned.”

Byrne was later charged with supplying Mr Wheeler with the second syringe, but the case was thrown out by Ipswich Crown Court.

Dr Dean, who recorded a verdict of accidental death, said Mr Wheeler had died from a fatal overdose of morphine, alcohol, and benzodiazepine.

“Kevin Wheeler was not a regular user of heroin, and it would appear this was an experiment with tragic consequences,” he said.

“This was a very tragic accident, and this case emphasises the extreme hazards of any experimentation with these very dangerous drugs.”

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