Sidmouth man died from drug overdose rules coroner

County Hall in Exeter.

County Hall in Exeter. - Credit: Archant

A Sidmouth man drove into an Exeter street and parked in a bay before collapsing and dying from a heroin overdose, an inquest heard.

Stephen John Kellian, of Yardelands, was found dead in a silver Renault Scenic by a civil enforcement officer in North Street on Christmas Eve last year.

The court heard the single 41-year-old labourer, who lived with his parents, had left his home at about 10.30pm after telling his mother and father he was going to see the new Star Wars film.

Mr Kellian had taken the family’s second car, which was last seen, before he died, on a camera driving into North Street just after midnight.

The court heard the traffic warden, who had found Mr Kellian’s body, had noticed a car parked awkwardly in North Street, at about 11.30am.

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And, after further investigation, noticed the driver was slumped over into the passenger seat and was unresponsive, so he called for an ambulance.

Detective Claire Westcott, who was called to the scene outside a sweet shop, made a statement which was read out to the court.

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She said when she arrived she found Mr Kellian’s body in the vehicle, still with his seat belt on and the keys in the ignition.

She added the man, who had blood around his mouth and nose, had been sick on the passenger seat, over which he was slumped.

In a report read out to the court, Dr Ian Chandler, who carried out an autopsy of Mr Kellian’s body, said he found no signs of injections or any other abnormal external injuries.

But toxicology tests were undertaken on his blood and found traces of alcohol and drugs which suggested he had taken street heroin which he believed would have affected his central nervous system – although he did not have a history of taking the substance.

The court heard Mr Kellian had spent a lot of his life travelling and living abroad but had come back to live with his parents about seven years ago.

In a statement, read out to the court, Mr Kellian’s mother, Mrs Susanne Hoare, said they knew nothing of their son having drug abuse problems.

“It was completely unexpected and out of the blue. There were no indications that he had anything wrong with him besides his kidney stones and arthritis,” she added.

Coroner Elizabeth Earland said: “The caused of death was heroin toxicity. I’m satisfied that around midnight on December 23, 2015, Stephen Kellian stopped the vehicle he was driving in a loading bay on North Street before he collapsed from an overdose of heroin.

“I am satisfied his death was a consequence of street heroin drug use and therefore my conclusion, on the balance of probability, is drug abuse.”

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