A bereaved mother has spoken out against Harrogate’s ‘terrible drugs problem’ following an inquest into her son’s death, and said that “the system really let him down”.
Linda Pieters criticised the uncoordinated approach of mental health and drugs rehabilitation services in the Harrogate District after the coroner ruled that her son died of ‘an accidental overdose of heroin’.
The court heard that 23-year-old, Jamie Newall was found dead in his flat on King Road on August 5 last year.
Post-mortem and toxicology reports stated that Mr Newall had ‘recreational’ levels of ketamine but 306 micrograms of morphine metabolites, which was noted to be a fatal amount.
Ms Pieters said: “There is a terrible drugs problem in Harrogate.
“There is nothing being done about it. The thing that upset me most of all is that we do think that Jamie was someone at risk and someone who should have been given some kind of intervention by the mental health services.”
The court heard that at age 12, Mr Newall had been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome which his parent sought to help him with during his younger years.
But the coroner was told that in recent months Mr Newall had started to see less of his friends as a result of his drug use, although he was still seeing his parents regularly.
Mental health worker, Julie Bradshaw, said that Mr Newall had been referred to her for an assessment but when she met with him he “seemed convinced that a decision had already been made” that he wouldn’t qualify for help because of his drug use.
Ms Pieters said: “Jamie had been going to them on and off for years. He has missed a lot of appointments but he has been going to them for years and they kept telling him they won’t do anything for him until he stopped his substance use.
“But the two things are so interrelated, mental health and drug use. He used to tell me that sometimes it was the only time he could cope with things.
“I’m not going to change anything now, Jamie is gone but there are so many people at risk here that are dying from drug use and struggling with drugs.”
Coroner Rob Turnbull concluded the inquest, ruling Mr Newall’s death as an accidental overdose of heroin.
He said: “I’m quite satisfied he had a lot of support from his mum and dad and that you both did everything you could to help him.
“But drugs came into play and it seems Jamie was doing quite a lot of drugs over a period of time.”