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Thursday, 31 July 2014

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Barrow man died taking cocktail of alcohol and drugs

A SUICIDAL mental health patient died in his hospital bed nearly five times the legal drink-drive limit after downing vodka on top of a cocktail of prescribed pills.

Timothy Stephen De-Vos went into meltdown after his partner of seven years was diagnosed with terminal cancer and he fought to deal with the sexual and mental abuse he had suffered as a child at the hands of his mother.

An inquest at Barrow Town Hall yesterday heard how concerned staff on the Dova Unit at Dane Garth, based in the grounds of Furness General Hospital, fought to save the former builder and landscaper’s life on May 26 last year.

The hearing heard how the 40-year-old father had been admitted to the unit as a voluntary patient after taking an overdose of paracetamol in April 2013.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Mark Fielding told the inquest that when he first met Mr De-Vos he was at high risk of suicide and had been involved with mental health services before after attempting to take his life.

He said: “He told me he had issues in his childhood where he had been sexually and emotionally abused by his mother. He had a problem with contact with his children and his partner had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. A treatment plan was put in place. He was initially not interacting with staff but eventually his suicidal risk diminished.”

He said Mr De-Vos was allowed out but would return to the unit after having consumed alcohol. He said he would be breathalysed and his medication stopped at that point if necessary.

Dr Fielding said Mr De-Vos was fully co-operating with staff and wanted to deal with his issues and get well but didn’t accept he had an issue with alcohol.

Day staff nurse Lee Devereaux was on duty on the afternoon of May 25. He said the patient had smelt of alcohol but that was a smell that was often present on him. He said Mr De-Vos had not appeared to be intoxicated.

Staff nurse Catherine Parker took over from Mr Devereaux and also said initially that Mr De-Vos had not appeared to be drunk.

She said that by about 11.30pm it became clear he was intoxicated. His behaviour became quite bizarre and he began singing.

He refused a breath test, denied he had been drinking and asked her to leave his room.

She said at this point the observations were upped to every 15 minutes as staff were concerned.

Mr De-Vos eventually got into his nightwear and was asleep when checked on by staff.

Nursing assistant Heather Bradley told the hearing that when she checked on him at 2am on May 26 he was snoring. At 2.15am he had stopped snoring but was breathing. However by 2.30am he was unresponsive and not breathing and a crash team was called.

Mr De-Vos, of Egerton Court, Barrow Island, was later pronounced dead.

Detective Constable Phil Rigby said they found three half-bottles of vodka in his room and CCTV footage showed these had been bought from Lakes Parade Stores that day.

He said they had also found medication under his pillow.

Summing up, coroner Mr Ian Smith said it was definitely not suicide.

He said an earlier overdose had damaged Mr De-Vos’s liver. He had hepatitis and the mixture of prescribed drugs and very high level of alcohol had all contributed to his death.

He added: “The combined effects in this case were fatal.”

He recorded a verdict of death by misadventure.

Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Dane Garth said in a statement: “Our sincere condolences are with those who were close to Mr De-Vos at this difficult time. We have taken this incident very seriously and conducted an internal investigation. We are committed to continuously improving our services and to providing the best possible patient care.”

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