Family of Sidmouth man remember him as ‘loveable rogue with heart of gold’ following inquest into his death

Richard Hudson

Richard Hudson - Credit: Archant

The family of a Sidmouth man who lost his life to drugs have paid tribute to a ‘loveable rogue with a heart of gold’, following an inquest into his death.

Richard Hudson, 32, was found dead on a friend’s kitchen floor in Lock Close on May 27 last year, a hearing at County Hall, Exeter, was told on Tuesday.

Coroner Dr Elizabeth Earland ruled the cause of death to be polydrug toxicology – an unintended consequence of the effect of a mixture of substances, including MDMA and cocaine.

A report from pathologist Dr Sarah Saunders stated that, while none of the drugs were present in excessive quantities, they could, in combination, have affected his heart.

Speaking after the inquest, Mr Hudson’s sister, Cherry, said her brother had previously been very anti-drugs, but things started to change four years ago, when he moved back to Sidmouth - his home town - from Essex after the break-up of a relationship. She added that things got ‘really bad’ for him in his last 12 months.

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In a joint statement, Cherry, mum Rose Hudson, and brother Shane said of Mr Hudson: “He had a heart of gold and would do anything for anyone. Richard was a character, a cheeky chappy with a big heart and a big smile. He was a lovable rogue. He was very popular and is much-loved and missed. Lots of people have shared lovely stories and fond memories with us since we lost him. It’s put a big hole in our family.”

The inquest heard that Mr Hudson was diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder three years before his death and a report by GP Amy Cooper confirmed he suffered from mental health problems, including anxiety.

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Dr Cooper said Mr Hudson had also been waiting to see a psychiatrist and had an appointment on June 8.

The inquest heard that Mr Hudson was drinking beer and rum on the evening of May 26, 2016, with friend Michael O’Donnell, who also described how they had ‘all smoked some crack’.

Ambulance crews were called to Mr O’Donnell’s Lock Close home at 8.55am the following morning, but Mr Hudson was described as unresponsive and his death was confirmed by paramedics at the scene.

In a statement read at the inquest, Mr O’Donnell said Mr Hudson arrived at his house at 7pm. He said he could tell ‘he had been drinking during the day’. He described how they went to another friend’s property before returning to Lock Close, where he said Mr Hudson took drugs and the pair carried on drinking. Mr O’Donnell added: “At about 1am, I went to go to bed and told him I’m going upstairs. Richard moaned, but was too drowsy to move. I left him on the kitchen floor with a pillow. I have seen him like that before, so did not think anything of it. He was laid in the same position when I came down, so I tried to wake him, but he did not respond. I feel very upset about my friend dying like this, especially because it was in my house. I’m so sorry for his mum and family.”

The inquest heard how Mr Hudson, of Manstone Avenue, had been involved in a relationship with someone for about six weeks and police had been called to her address on May 25. She described their relationship as a ‘rollercoaster’.

The inquest heard evidence from Philip Fallows, a builder who had been a friend of Mr Hudson for around 14 years, who said: “Richard had been hanging around with the wrong crowd.”

In a statement, Mr Hudson’s mum, Rose, described how her son suffered from mental health issues and alcohol dependency. She added that his moods were often erratic and he was too ill with his mental health to hold down a job – for which he was taking medication, but would regularly misuse the prescribed drugs. She added that Mr Hudson has a daughter whom he had not seen for about a year.

In summary, Dr Earland said she was satisfied that the cause of death was polydrug toxicity, adding: “He ingested a cocktail of drugs at Lock Close before being found collapsed on May 27. His death was an unintended consequence of the effect of a mixture of drugs on his heart. It is more likely than not that he died as a consequence of drug abuse.”

Cherry told the Herald that her brother had worked for David Lloyd fitness club as a maintenance manager and had once worked at Mohamed Al-Fayed’s house fixing his pool. She added: “When you hear what happened with him taking drugs, it was not the person we knew.”

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