A former Exeter chef and builder who expressed his wish to live after an intentional overdose tragically died unknowingly just two days later after taking a deadly combination of drugs. Luke Coles was found unconscious on a friend's couch on October 9, 2021 after a night out, an inquest heard.
The 29-year-old was under the watchful eye of friends who immediately resuscitated him when they realized he had stopped breathing but was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital. In a statement, his mother, Michelle Kennedy, described him as "a very emotional boy with a heart on his sleeve."
The inquest at Exeter Coroners' Court at County Hall yesterday, January 30, found that the night before his death, Luke had been at a friends' house, where he had used alcohol, cocaine and marijuana. It was described as a little "loose" but other than that it was fine.
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While some friends stayed in town, he went back to his best friend's house in Exeter city center with two others to listen to music and play cards. One of the friends told in a statement how he suspected itHe went to the bathroom and did more drugs after becoming shaky and dizzy.
They put him on the couch to rest and the friends later left. When Luke's best friend returned home along with other friends around 3 a.m., they described him as snoring and unable to wake him.
They placed him in the recovery position on his side around 7 a.m. after worrying about his well-being and dismissing him for not breathing properly. They performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation until paramedics arrived. An autopsy confirmed that the cause of death was the combined toxic effects of morphine and benzodiazepines.
Luke, who lived in Broadclyst with his mother and her partner, had a long history of depression and anxiety.
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The inquest revealed that he called an ambulance on October 7, 2021 after intentionally overdosing. A psychiatric evaluation was carried out at the hospital and a referral to theCommunity Psychiatric Team
A senior psychiatrist said at the inquest: "He was brandedconsidered a moderate risk to himself due to the substances he used, which increased his risk of unintentional death".
His mother described him as a happy and lively boy who was diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD around the age of 18. He then took on various jobs including cooking and construction work and was previously employed by BT and Devon Doctors on the NHS 111 service.
At the start of lockdown in late March 2020, he lost his job on a building site and stayed with his family in Derbyshire. The following month, he fell off his bicycle while riding through a forest and suffered a head injury. As a result, he lost his sense of smell and taste, which prevented him from working as a chef again. His mother, with whom he moved back in, said, "I think that's when the depression started."
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Recalling her final moments with him, she recounted how he held her before driving her home for the night, telling her about her recent attempt at an overdose, "I really don't want to die."
She said: "There weren't anyWhen I left him on Friday it suggested he was either depressed or planning to kill himself, especially after the hug and comment in the kitchen."
His best friend, at whose house he was staying before his death, said in a statement that Luke used cocaine recreationally, but that over the past year it has become a "problem" and due to the problems he was having with his had life, he began self-medicating. Describing Luke's state of mind before his death, the friend recalled that while he could say he was sad, there was no indication that he was having suicidal thoughts.
He said: "He was just outgoing and talking to people. He was super friendly and upbeat and everyone really liked him." He added, "I'm heartbroken at his death. We were very close.”
Another friend who was with him that night described him as a "really nice guy" and said he warned him about the dangers of drugs after the deaths of other friends that night. He said, "I didn't want the same thing to happen to her."
A police investigation was conducted after Luke's death. Sergeant John Friskey ruled out suicide, saying, "It was an accident due to the substances I took that night."
Local coroner Alison Longhorn, who found the conclusion of a drug-related death, said: "He used drugs for recreational purposes, as he has done many times before, and unfortunately misjudged the cumulative effect they had on him with tragic consequences .”
She added, "It's obvious to me that he was a dear family member and friend."
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