Popular Dereham sportman’s death was “drug-related”, inquest hears

PUBLISHED: 15:34 08 October 2018 | UPDATED: 15:34 08 October 2018

Max Cheetham.

Max Cheetham.


A popular local sportsman who suffered a “drug-related death” had expressed disappointment that substance abuse had impeded his sporting ability, an inquest heard.

Carrow House.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYCarrow House. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Max Cheetham, 32, had played cricket at county level for Norfolk and for Dereham Cricket Club, but died at his home on Robert Key Drive in Mattishall, near Dereham, on March 5 this year.

He was found dead by his father in his bathroom.

In a statement read to Norfolk Coroner’s Court on Monday (October 8), Jonathan Cheetham described his son as a “very good cricketer” who was “widely adored”.

The inquest heard that Max was a “very devoted father” of two children. After separating with their mother he met another woman, Claire Souter, in 2016.

Mr Cheetham said: “I would see Max regularly and he would bring the kids around frequently.”

On the Wednesday before his death they had breakfast together and were “laughing and joking”, the inquest heard. “There was no reason to be even slightest bit worried about him,” Mr Cheetham said.

The inquest heard that on Monday March 5, after a phonecall from Mr Cheetham’s son George, who could not get into Max’s house, Mr Cheetham kicked in the front door before noticing the bathroom door was locked from the inside. After kicking in that door, Mr Cheetham saw Max lying on the floor with some items near him.

He said he would never have related the objects to drugs, because he had “never related drugs to Max.”

Mr Cheetham said the family had “no inkling Max was involved in drugs”.

“Our grief is compounded that other people knew he was involved in drugs but did not tell us,” he said.

A statement from Claire Souter was also read at the inquest. She said Max told her that when he was 15 he was an ‘aspiring cricketer but got involved in drugs and this impeded his sporting ability’. This upset him because he loved cricket, she said.

Assistant coroner for Norfolk Johanna Thompson said the medical cause of death was “cardiac arrhythmia due to cocaine and volatile substance toxicity”. The court recorded Max’s death as “drug-related.”

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