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Norwich father died of drug-related causes, inquest hears

PUBLISHED: 18:32 04 June 2018 | UPDATED: 18:32 04 June 2018

Mr Cunningham's inquest was held at Carrow House in Norwich on Monday, June 4.. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Mr Cunningham's inquest was held at Carrow House in Norwich on Monday, June 4.. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2016

A Norwich father who suffered from a chronic lung condition died of drug-related causes, an inquest has heard.

Karl Cunningham, 45, had been taking methadone as a heroin replacement as well as other prescription medication.

The inquest, held in Norwich on Monday, heard he suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, agoraphobia and paranoid schizophrenia.

His daughter told the court she had been concerned about her father overusing prescribed drugs.

Mr Cunningham, of Violet Elvin Court, was found by his father at home on the evening of Friday, December 1, 2017.

“I noticed I couldn’t hear the sound of breathing,” his father, Roy Cunningham, told the court in a statement.

“He felt cold, and I left him in that position and went to my emergency button,” he added.

Paramedic Robert Cowie told the court in a statement that he went to Mr Cunningham’s home at 6.09pm where he was pronounced dead at 6.17pm.

A post-mortem examination found the cause of death was respiratory failure.

The court heard from Lynn Swan, a community mental health nurse at the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT), who worked with Mr Cunningham.

She said in a statement: “There was never a time when it was appropriate to refer him to the crisis team.

“He was likeable, with a gentle manner and a good sense of humour.

“I would like to offer my condolences to the family, and particularly his father who Karl spoke of often.”

At the inquest, Mr Cunningham’s daughter Demi Cunningham raised her concerns about her father overusing prescription medication.

She told the coroner: “They should look a bit more carefully into medication and how they are prescribed.

“He should have been on a regimen to ensure that he only took the medication he should have taken every day.”

Area coroner Yvonne Blake said: “It is something that we have heard from other families that people seem to be on an awful lot of tablets.”

She recorded a conclusion that Mr Cunningham’s death was drug-related.

She said: “I feel he may have just been very unlucky on this occasion.”

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