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Wednesday, 06 May 2015

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Man’s death by painkillers remains a mystery

THE family of a Whitehaven man who was found dead in his bed may never know how he came to have fatal levels of a strong painkiller in his system, an inquest has heard.

David Elrod, 67, was found dead in his Dalegarth Road home on February 3 this year; the cause of death being a “fatal concentration” of Fentanyl – a powerful painkiller administered by placing a patch on the skin.

However, he had not been prescribed the painkiller by his GP or hospital staff. Assistant coroner Robert Chapman said at the inquest today (Wednesday) that how Mr Elrod came to have the drug “may always be a mystery”. He therefore recorded an open verdict.

The inquest heard that concern for Mr Elrod’s welfare had grown leading up to the tragic discovery of his body. The emergency services were called when he had not been seen for a number of days, and when they entered his home, they found he had been dead “for some time”.

Mr Elrod was found with a number of Fentanyl patches on his body, and marks where others had been. He was receiving treatment for throat cancer and suffered with arthritis, the inquest heard, and was using medication to combat the pain he was in.

Mr Chapman said: “It is clear that Fentanyl is not one of the medications he was prescribed. One has to be very careful using Fentanyl, and misusing it can be extremely dangerous.

“Because where it came from is a mystery, we are not sure if Mr Elrod was properly instructed about its usage and its dangers.”

The coroner ruled out that Mr Elrod had intended to harm himself.

Mr Elrod had a passion for outdoor pursuits, said his family. He loved mountaineering and once climbed with Sir Chris Bonington. He was also a passionate sailor and a popular member of the local boating community, having moved to Whitehaven in 2004 to be close to the marina.

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