Search for drug dealer after death of ‘lovely natured lad’

County Durham Coroner's Court within Crook Civic Centre.
County Durham Coroner's Court within Crook Civic Centre.

Police are trying to trace the dealer who sold heroin to a young man who later died due to drugs.

An inquest into the death of Thomas Blades, 23, heard inquiries are ongoing into the sale of heroin, as well as who had been in the house before he collapsed on Sunday, February 19.

I have sat here for over 30 years and I know if you dabble in illegal drugs, they are dangerous, that’s the top and bottom of it.

Andrew Tweddle

The inquest was told police were called to a house in Murton by paramedics who reported Thomas, from Barwick Street in the village, had died.

Detective Sergeant Gemma Royal, of Peterlee CID, said a search found an amount of a brown substance on a spoon alongside some uncapped needles.

Thomas’s girlfriend of three years, Marie Warby, was also in the house and told a police officer in an interview using a body-worn camera they had shared a £10 bag of heroin.

Marie, who had carried out CPR on Thomas, was taken to hospital in case the drugs also caused her to become ill.

Det Sgt Royal told the hearing she has tried to contact Marie since, but has been unable to speak to her, and explained inquiries are ongoing to trace the person who sold the drugs.

Coroner Andrew Tweddle told the inquest, held in Crook, that toxicology tests found morphine in Thomas’s system, explaining how that had been found to be from heroin.

He said other drugs, including diazepam, cocaine and codeine, had also been present.

Thomas’s mother Carol explained to the hearing Marie told her weeks after his death she had given him sips of her morphine during that day.

Mr Tweddle, recording that Thomas’s death was drug related, said: “The toxicology is very clear, that there are drugs found in both his blood and urine, some in higher levels than others.

“In the opinion of the toxicologist and pathologist, there are sufficient drugs in his system to account for his death.”

Mr Tweddle, who had given the police officer a chance to pause the inquest to carry on further inquiries, went on to say that given the nature of illegal drugs, it is difficult to know what they contain.

“I have sat here for over 30 years and I know if you dabble in illegal drugs, they are dangerous, that’s the top and bottom of it.”

Following the hearing, Carol told the Echo her son was not a regular heroin user, but acknowledged there had been a series of substances in his system.

Paying tribute to Thomas, she said: “He was just so funny, he was a practical joker and he was very caring.

“He was a lovely natured lad, very big hearted.”

She added he had also been vulnerable and too trusting.