TRIBUTES were paid to a well-known Whitehaven dad of three who died earlier this year.

Nicholas Graham, 39, was found in his Windmill Brow flat on February 28. His death was drug-related, concluded assistant coroner Dr Nicholas Shaw at an inquest in Cockermouth.

Mr Graham's wife, Rachel, gave a statement.

The couple had separated a few months earlier but were in regular contact. She had been concerned when he was not replying to messages and went to his flat, where she found him deceased.

"He loved the kids and was a great dad. He was a good laugh and a good lad, he always had good banter and that's how most people will think of him," said Mrs Graham.

"We all hoped he would sort himself out and return home.

"He loved me and the kids but the addictions he had were too strong to overcome."

The former Whitehaven School pupil worked as a scaffolder and also DJed in local clubs.

"He was a Jack the lad at school, happy with lots of friends, " said Mrs Graham.

"Nick lost his mum and dad a year and 10 weeks apart," said Mrs Graham.

"It had a huge effect, he had no other family apart from me and his step-mum Barbara.

"He dealt with this by going out with friends, he was very sociable.

"He used to take drugs at the weekend, recreationally."

The family had happy times and enjoyed some holidays in Tenerife.

"Nick was a great dad. He was very happy, he would say I gave him a family," said Mrs Graham.

In about 2018 he had two accidents at work, said Mrs Graham.

"He was in a huge amount of pain, the doctors prescribed something and he became addicted to these and got addicted to painkillers," she said.

In 2020 he got involved with Unity and was prescribed medication to control his drug addiction.

Following his death, the police found a lot of medication in his home.

A post mortem revealed a range of prescribed and unprescribed drugs in his system. There was a "very high level" of oxycodone and other drugs including "significant amounts" of diazepam and temazepam, the combined effect of which is likely to cause death. There was also evidence of cocaine use.

Dr Shaw said: "Substances were found in large amounts at the property which would imply they had been purchased.

"I have no doubt the that the combination of all these drugs has suppressed his respiration to the extent he stopped breathing.

"This is such a sad story, to hear Rachel's outline of their happy initial relationship which has been blighted by drug use.

"I can only offer my condolences to her and Nick's children for the loss of their father.

"Sadly stories like this are not uncommon and drug use continues to blight the lives of those who indulge in it."