An Andover father passed away shortly after his 50th birthday following an attempt to control severe pain, an inquest has heard.

Gary John Bailey passed away on September 28, 2020, after being discovered “cold to the touch” by neighbours in his home in Atholl Court, a part of Kingsway Gardens. The coroner said that he had taken morphine before his death, as well as drinking significant quantities of alcohol, which exacerbated existing health conditions.

Giving her verdict, coroner Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp said that she believed the 50-year-old ‘didn’t realise the risk he was taking’ and that the combination of both alcohol and morphine caused him to pass away.

A verdict of an alcohol/drug related death was declared.

The inquest at Winchester Coroners’ Court heard from Mr Bailey’s daughter Carole-Anne, who attended with members of her family. Carole-Anne said that Mr Bailey, known commonly as ‘Fred’, had been self-employed, fixing a variety of electrical items until issues with his business caused him to fall on hard times, exacerbating existing issues.

“Dad was quite troubled,” she said. “He had always been a drinker but when he was made homeless he went drinking more than before. He hid his homelessness very well from me, and when I found out I would help when I could, and worked with the council to get him into a flat.

“I thought he was getting better.”

Following concerns over his alcoholism, a GP at the Adelaide Medical Centre advised him to engage with Inclusion, an alcohol support service, in 2019. He also complained of ‘extreme’ pain following a chronic ear infection, which caused severe tinnitus and deafness, requiring him to wear hearing aids.

He was said to have been “tearful and depressed” on one visit due to these symptoms, and was prescribed antidepressants.

Later, in August 2020, he was admitted to hospital following a collapse after complaining of shortness of breath. He was found to not have Covid, and was instead diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease after having been a “heavy smoker”.

This pain and shortness of breath continued, with Mr Bailey admitting to a GP he had begun to smoke crack cocaine, which Carole-Anne said she had no knowledge of him using, or any other drugs.

On September 28, he had visited an old friend and neighbour, Jason Lucas, in an adjacent flat. A statement read to the court said that he had answered the door to Mr Bailey to find he had narrowed pupils, and so believed him to be on drugs.

“I used to be heroin user years ago,” he said, “and so knew the signs. He said he bought morphine from a friend and took some earlier. I told him he was stupid to be dabbling in it.”

Half an hour later, Mr Lucas went to check on his friend, finding his door unlocked. Inside, he found Mr Bailey’s body slumped on a table, and said he “knew it was already too late”.

He alerted a neighbour, Amanda Weekes, who called an ambulance while Mr Lucas attempted CPR. After she took over, 999 advised her that nothing more could be done.

A post-mortem found that Mr Bailey had a significant amount of alcohol, 2.7x the drink drive limit, in his blood, as well as levels of morphine “that could be associated with fatality”.

The cause of death was given as respiratory depression brought on by morphine and alcohol toxicity, contributed to by alcohol cirrhosis and an enlarged heart.

The coroner said that she believed Mr Bailey had taken morphine as he had “thought it would help him through pain or help him feel better”, adding that there was no evidence he had intended to take his own life.

Addressing Carole-Anne, she said: “I think your dad coped amazingly with his ear condition but when out on the street, health does suffer so to manage that he became alcohol dependent then somehow became involved with drugs.”

Carole-Anne said that she didn’t realise her father would take drugs, saying: “My dad had many, many issues but without that morphine he would have been alive today.”

Following the verdict, the coroner gave her condolences to the family.

If you are being affected by an unhealthy relationship with alcohol or drugs, you can visit Inclusion Hampshire for support: