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Ipswich: Man who overcame 22-year drug addiction died after overdose

PUBLISHED: 13:10 27 June 2013 | UPDATED: 13:11 27 June 2013

The Red Rose Chain is based at Gippeswyk Hall, Ipswich

The Red Rose Chain is based at Gippeswyk Hall, Ipswich

An Ipswich man who beat his 22-year drug addiction and starred in a play warning of substance abuse died after taking an overdose, an inquest heard.

Officers found the body of Stephen Whyte at his home in Hawthorn Drive, Ipswich, on February 10.

The court heard no-one had been in contact with the 44-year-old for a “short while” and his family called police after becoming concerned for his welfare.

Officers discovered his body in his lounge after breaking down the front door when there was no response.

A toxicology report revealed prescription drugs – including anti-depressants – and a small amount of alcohol were found in his system when he died.

There were no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death, but there was evidence of recent drug use.

A statement from his brother Ian was read at Friday’s inquest, held at IP-City Centre, Bath Street, Ipswich.

He said Mr Whyte had previously used drugs, which had concerned him, but he thought his brother was now clean.

“He was fine the last time I saw him. He was enjoying his work,” his statement added.

The court was told Mr Whyte, born in Paisley, Scotland, joined Ipswich theatre company Red Rose Chain after apparently overcoming his drug abuse.

The court was told he started out as a volunteer, before finding employment as a technician and eventually becoming the full-time production manager.

He then moved on to the stage and performed in front of more than 5,000 people in an educational play about drug addiction last year.

“He was brilliant and very brave”, said a Red Rose Chain statement, which was read out at the inquest.

“He was the life and soul of the company.”

It added he had recovered from his 22-year drug addiction and had been clean for three years, giving up smoking in the process.

The statement spoke of “shock” among workers after they learned Mr Whyte had died.

Recording a verdict that he took his own life, Greater Suffolk Coroner Peter Dean said: “Clearly, despite efforts made, there were difficulties in his personal life and he made the decision sadly to take his own life.

“He clearly understood the consequences of his actions.”

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