Homeless man lay dead for days

tis. Harrogate Magistrates Court. 311208ARpic1.
tis. Harrogate Magistrates Court. 311208ARpic1.

A DISABLED homeless man died of an accidental morphine overdose while waiting for help to find a permanent home, a coroner has ruled.

Forty-five-year-old Nigel Robert Holman died around January 2 this year, and his body lay undiscovered for around four days before it was found by staff at the Ashley House Hotel, Harrogate on January 6.

Mr Holman had been homeless for a number of years, the inquest heard, and was disabled after a serious motorcycle accident which left him in constant pain.

He had lived in a tent near North Deighton and was happy with his lifestyle until cold weather and his deteriorating health had forced him to turn to the Harrogate Homeless Project for help in mid December, spending nights at their emergency cold weather shelter.

But project manager Liz Hancock told the inquest staff soon felt the accommodation – camp beds in the project’s day centre – was not suitable for Mr Holman’s injuries.

They contacted council housing officials as they thought Mr Holman’s bad health made him a priority for rehousing, but with the New Year bank holidays no help was found.

Charity workers then decided to pay for a hotel room for Mr Holman for two nights from Saturday, December 31 to Monday, January 2, until they could contact council housing officers.

At the inquest Mr Turnbull read a statement from hotel staff which said as Mr Holman’s bill was paid in advance and his room was not needed for new guests, it was not checked until January 6 when a cleaner started voiced worries about a Do Not Disturb sign which had been on the door for four days.

Reaching his verdict, coroner Rob Turnbull said: “The post-mortem showed Mr Holman had died from intoxication by morphine, which was prescribed to him as pain relief after a motorcycle accident.

“Far from being in despair Mr Holman was looking forward to working with the charity to find a change of lifestyle. I am quite certain that Mr Holman administered the medication in an attempt to relieve pain.”