Bradford’s trade in illicit prescription drugs claims two victims

Coroner Roger Whittaker
Coroner Roger Whittaker

A CORONER has warned of the dangers of taking other people’s prescription drugs after hearing evidence that trading in various illicit tablets is “rife” in parts of one Yorkshire city.

West Yorkshire coroner Roger Whittaker heard yesterday how divorced housewife Alison Pearson, 50, and her partner Jimmy Hawkins had taken a cocktail of prescription drugs, some of them prescribed to other people for various conditions including epilepsy and depression.

Mr Hawkins only came round from the evening of drug taking at 3pm the next day.

His partner of seven years, who had recently battled breast cancer and was waiting for an operation for a problem with her heart, had died on the sofa and was found in a “peaceful” position on her side.

Blood tests later revealed the presence of 12 prescription drugs her in system.

Mr Hawkins agreed with the coroner that taking other people’s prescription drugs was a “normal” part of his life.

He described being “knocked out” by the tablets he had taken and coming round at 3pm the next day to someone shouting his and Alison’s names.

The court heard that West Yorkshire Police initially believed that the death of Miss Pearson, of Sheldrake Avenue, may have been linked to the death of another woman, Sarah Hussain, 38, a former dental nurse, who lived half a mile away and was found dead in her flat on the same day, June 16 last year.

Two local men were arrested on suspicion of supplying prescription medication on the Lower Grange estate but, to date, no-one has been charged.

The inquests into the deaths of both women were held at the same time yesterday.

Detective Sergeant Steve Wedge, of Bradford CID, told the hearing in Bradford that it was difficult to prevent the illicit trade in prescription drugs.

Asked by Mr Whittaker whether dealing was rife in Bradford, DS Wedge said: “Whether the sale, or swapping or the lending of prescribed drugs, it probably is (rife).”

The officer added: “I think a lot of people take it as a substitute for buying class A and B drugs.”

Miss Pearson’s daughter, Jodie, told the court there was “no justice in this system” because the penalties for selling prescription drugs were too lenient.

Mr Whittaker said it was clear that Miss Pearson was a “volunteer” in that she had willingly taken the illicit drugs.

“If anything is to be learned from this case it is that those who take prescriptions drugs like this, in these quantities, can expect tragic consequences.”

He concluded that Miss Pearson had died as a result of taking a “cocktail of drugs she was not authorised to take,” adding: “I would hope, as a result of this tragedy, a warning goes out to those who take prescription drugs which are not prescribed to them that they can die - it is something they ought to be made aware of and warned not to continue.”

Mr Whittaker said it was clear that she was a regular user of illicit prescribed drugs. He recorded an accidental death verdict.

The inquest into the death of Sarah Hussain heard that she was trying to get off heroin and was also suffering from tuberculosis. Morphine was found in her system, along with prescription drugs which had been illegally supplied. She was found at her flat in Mallard Court, Bradford. Mr Whittaker concluded that she died from an overdose of drugs as a result of an accident.