Well-known Big Issue seller in Norwich died after taking overdose

PUBLISHED: 16:36 12 June 2019 | UPDATED: 16:36 12 June 2019

Norwich Big Issue seller Simon Thorndike died on October 2, 2018. Picture: Archant

Norwich Big Issue seller Simon Thorndike died on October 2, 2018. Picture: Archant

A well-known Big Issue seller in Norwich died after overdosing on prescription medication, with nearly 10 times the fatal amount found in his blood.

Simon Thorndike, 49, of Magdalen Road, died on October 2 last year at his friend's flat in Jewson Road.

At a full inquest hearing on Wednesday, Norfolk Coroner's Court heard he had a history of taking impulsive overdoses of his medication and had a chronic alcohol problem - he admitted to drinking six to eight litres of medium strength cider a day.

He was living at a bedsit in Magdalen Road, run by Norwich homeless charity St Martins Housing, but was unhappy with the accommodation and frequently stayed with friends.

His inquest was attended by his close friends Cameron Stubbs, Bernadette Fallon and Leonie Fallon, who had paid for Mr Thorndike's cremation at Earlham Crematorium in November last year.

In a statement read out in court, Mr Stubbs described the close relationship he had with Mr Thorndike and considered him a part of his family.

"We've known each other for years," he said. "We would pretty much talk everyday, he was like a brother to me."

He said Mr Thorndike would overdose on his medication to 'get a bit of a buzz' and to get social services to get him out of where he was living.

The court heard Mr Thorndike consistently denied any help from mental health professionals and stated his housing situation was a priority.

A post mortem report revealed he had 'quite a high level' of one prescribed drug in his system, which area coroner Yvonne Blake said was nearly 10 times the fatal dose.

He was also found with a pain killer in his blood, which was not deemed a large overdose.

The medical cause of death was given as respiratory depression due to combined drug toxicity and chronic ischemic heart disease.

Ms Blake said there was no evidence to suggest Mr Thorndike intended to end his own life and concluded that he died a drug-related death.

"He appears to have been an unhappy man," Ms Blake said.

She added that Mr Thorndike's weight caused him problems with his knees and back which Mr Stubbs agreed was one of the reasons he overdosed to relieve the pain.

"He was at high risk of death by misadventure because of how he took his drugs," Ms Blake said.

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