A 44-year-old father died inside a tent in a city churchyard after consuming drugs and alcohol, an inquest has heard. 

The body of Robert Smithson was found by church wardens inside the grounds of St Mark’s Church on Hall Road in Norwich

Police officers were called at around 1.20pm on March 21 and attended the scene, where they found Mr Smithson had died. 

A police cordon was in place while emergency services were at the scene. 

Eastern Daily Press: The body of Robert Smithson was found by church wardens inside the grounds of St Mark’s Church on

An inquest into his death took place at Norfolk Coroner’s Court on November 1. 

Assistant coroner Christopher Leach read aloud to the Norwich court a statement from Mr Smithson’s sister, Sharon Richardson. 

In it she described a “tough childhood” where “chaos was always going on”.  

She said: “When Robert became a teenager, he started to drink alcohol and smoke cannabis.  

“I don’t know why he did this.”  

In his 20s, he moved to Norwich from Wells, in north Norfolk, before starting a new life in London. It was here he began to “drink excessively and took drugs.”  

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Mrs Richardson added: “Robert did suffer from mental health, and I believe he had depression. I believe this was caused by our mother passing away 11 years ago.  

“I also believe his childhood explained [this] but also had a detrimental effect on his mental health and his ability to cope in his life.”   

Around 18 months ago, Mr Smithson was diagnosed with hepatitis C and also completed two stints of detox, the latter being over the Christmas period last year. 

The circumstances surrounding his death was that on March 17, he left the property he had been staying at with a tent. 

He was later found inside the grounds of St Mark’s Church, inside his tent with a bag of unopened groceries outside. 

Mr Leach recorded a conclusion of an alcohol and drug related death.

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Norfolk and Waveney Mind can also be contacted by calling 0300 330 5488.