Inquest begins into death of UEA student

Eastgate House, Thorpe Road, where the Coroner's Court is situated in the ground floor. Picture: Den

Eastgate House, Thorpe Road, where the Coroner's Court is situated in the ground floor. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2012

A student who died at his university halls of residence had developed an opiate dependency, an inquest heard.

First year UEA law student Christopher Harris was found dead by his father's partner after she came to visit him on April 28.

An inquest into the 23-year-old's death heard yesterday how he was discovered unresponsive in his bed at the university's Nelson Court halls.

Mr Harris, who lived in Gravesend in Kent, had been on various medications to deal with physical and mental health issues he had been suffering.

Giving evidence, Dr Wendy Nixon, a GP at the UEA's medical services, said: 'He was on a lot of medication for some time and had been seen by various specialists over the years.

'While he was not officially labelled as having opiate dependency, anyone who has been on opiates since 2010 is going to be dependent.'

The inquest heard how a month before his death, a doctor had raised concerns about the amount of medication Mr Harris had been on.

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A pathologist said the cause of death was fatal opiate poisoning, in combination with the painkiller oxycodone and pregabalin, a drug used to reduce the effects of anxiety.

Speaking after the inquest, his father Tony Harris said: 'He was a lovely and caring child who was extremely clever, but sadly his difficulties overcame him and he is desperately missed by all of his family. He was an only child, which makes it extremely difficult.'

The second half of the inquest is due to take place on Tuesday, November 24 in Norwich.