Bristol man found dead in bedroom by sister after ‘suffering back pain’

An inquest has heard that a 33-year-old man originally from Bristol died after taking a mixture of prescription drugs.

The Liverpool Echo are reporting that Michael Andrew Holliday was found dead in his bedroom by his sister at a property in Haig Road in Widnes, Cheshire on Sunday, January 3.

At an inquest today (September 29), Heath Westerman, assistant coroner for Cheshire, read written statements from Mr Holliday’s next of kin, a police officer who attended the scene, and medical evidence.

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He said tests by toxicologist Donna Cameron found Michael had consumed a toxicity of prescribed drugs.

The findings showed that the dosages were ‘consistent with therapeutic use’ however Ms Cameron said the medicines can have a combined effect on the nervous system and breathing.

She said: “Their effects have the potential to become concomitant.

“However, it should be noted that the significance of such findings would have been highly dependent on the degree of tolerance possessed by the deceased at the time of death.”

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Dr Cheng Li, the pathologist who completed a post-mortem examination, concluded the cause of death to have been heart and respiratory failure caused by “multiple drug toxicity”, contributed to by heart ailments, and to a lesser extent by fatty liver and heavy weight, adding Michael had a “past medical history of opiate-type drug dependence”.

Detective Sergeant Henderson Pierre, of Cheshire Police, attended the scene where he found no suspicious circumstances or note expressing intent to self-harm, but observed medicines prescribed in the names of the deceased and other people.

DS Pierre, who deemed the death “unexplained”, said he was aware Michael was “addicted to painkillers after suffering a back complaint”, and had become a “recluse and spent most of his time in his room”.

Lisa Holliday, Michael’s sister and next of kin, who found Michael after he died, said she was aware her brother suffered mental health and physical health problems in addition to social anxiety.

She was also aware that he had been prescribed painkillers for a “bad back” but had become “addicted to tablets”, for which he was given methadone “to help him come off them”.

She expressed no concerns regarding his medical care and was content for the inquest to proceed in her absence.

A statement from Michael’s GP Dr Madhavi Meda, of Oaks Place Surgery health centre, said Michael’s prescriptions were for treating anxiety and pain and were “constantly reviewed” over the last two years amid “concerns that he was asking for repeat prescriptions too often”.

Evidence from the Change Grow Live (CGL) substance recovery service provided further background to Michael’s situation.

Michael transferred to CGL when he moved to Widnes from Bristol in 2017.

Getting support

If you are worried about your own or someone else’s drug or alcohol Bristol Drug’s Project are contactable on 01179876000 and info@bdp.org.uk.

CGL reported that Michael had started using the painkiller codeine in his 20s, and began using heroin when he turned 26, and was placed on the replacement treatment methadone.

Since 2018, Michael’s methadone dosage had varied after he asked for it to be increased but it was reduced again when an electrocardiogram (ECG) detected heart problems.

In 2020, consultations took place remotely due to the pandemic, and Michael reported the “occasional” use of heroin “out of boredom”, which towards the end of the year he described as around twice a week.

He also said “nuisance phone calls” had been encouraging him “to buy substances”.

In the time leading up to his death he had asked for his methadone dose to be increased but CGL told him this couldn’t take place without another ECG, and Michael died before it could take place.

Mr Westerman recorded a conclusion that Michael Andrew Holliday, 33, of Haig Road, Widnes, died at home on January 3, due to cardiorespiratory failure due to multiple drug toxicity, contributed to by heart disease, and to a lesser extent other issues such as his weight.

The coroner gave a “narrative” conclusion, and said this reflected the nature of the cause of death as being “a mix of natural causes and drug-related”.

He expressed his condolences to the deceased’s family.

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