Tragic death of Sunderland ‘gentle giant’ after accidentally taking huge dose of mental health medication

Jamie Crighton with his dad Arthur Crighton.
Jamie Crighton with his dad Arthur Crighton.

A “gentle giant” collapsed in a Sunderland takeaway and later died after accidentally taking a huge overdose of the medication he was using to battle serious mental health issues.

Despite the best efforts of paramedics, popular dad Jamie Crighton passed away after collapsing in a pizza shop.

Funeral of Jamie Crighton

Funeral of Jamie Crighton

An inquest into the 25-year-old’s death showed he had a fatal level of anti-psychotic drug Quetiapine in his system.

Coroner Derek Winter said his death was an “unintended consequence” of having incorrectly taken too much of his medication.

Jamie’s grieving dad Arthur said he was consoled that the inquest showed his son “didn’t mean to hurt himself.”

The avid Black Cats fan, who hailed from the Southwick area, was living at the Salvation Army’s Swan Lodge at the time of his tragic death.

Funeral of Jamie Crighton

Funeral of Jamie Crighton

The inquest, held at Sunderland Coroner’s Court, heard that Jamie, who stood at 6ft 9in tall, had been living at the site since last August after being released from hospital.

Jamie’s family say that he had suffered from depression for a number of years and had tried to commit suicide at least 15 times, including once plunging a 10in knife into his stomach.

Service manager at Swan Lodge Christine Ritchie, giving evidence, said that after initially being given his medication by staff, he eventually agreed to administer his own.

“His CPN (community psychiatric nurse) was more than happy for Jamie to take control of his medication,” said Ms Ritchie.

Jamie, a former Monkwearmouth Academy pupil, had left Swan Lodge in the early hours of November 8 last year and bought food from takeaway shop Pizza King, in the Holmeside area.

CCTV showed him sitting down to eat the food he had bought, but he then collapsed and became unconscious.

Pc Thomas Wade told the hearing a man and a woman and later paramedics tried to resuscitate him but it was to no avail and he was pronounced dead at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

A post-mortem examination carried out by pathologist Hugh Cochrane found only moderate levels of alcohol in Jamie’s system at the time he died, but that there was also 11,311 mcg of Quetiapine in 100ml of blood.

A reading of 1,300mcg of Quetiapine is classed as a “toxic” level, while 7,000mcg can be fatal in many cases, added Dr Cochrane.

“The Quetiapine has an effect on the respiratory system and the heart,” he said.

“It’s my opinion that Jamie died as a result of his heart stopping due to a cardiac arrest.”

Also giving evidence was Jamie’s dad Arthur, who had regularly visited his son while he stayed at Swan Lodge.

He said he and the rest of Jamie’s family were upset that people who knew Jamie had encouraged him to drink when they had previously promised the Crighton family not to.

“He had just been released from hospital and his heart needed time to settle,” said Mr Crighton.

The city’s coroner Derek Winter closed the hearing by recording a conclusion of misadventure in the case.

He said: “There is no evidence in my mind that Jamie intended to take his own life.

“It seems to me that Jamie’s death was the unintended consequence of ingesting too much of that drug.

“I will record a conclusion of misadventure caused by a fatal cardiac arrhythmia.”

Jamie’s family said he had suffered terrible problems with his mental health for six years before his death.

At one point, the popular football fan had been set for a career in the Army, but problems with the relationship with the mother of his daughter had caused a bout of depression from which he never escaped.

“He wanted to go in the Coldstream Guards but couldn’t, so he went into the Rifles at Catterick, “ said Jamie’s loving dad Arthur.

“But because of things that happened he couldn’t keep on with it.”

Mr Crighton added that he could take some consolation from the inquest conclusion that Jamie had not intended to take his own life on the night he died.

“At least we know that he didn’t mean to hurt himself.

“There’s a reason he was called the “Gentle Giant”, because he wouldn’t hurt a fly.

“He was well-loved in Sunderland and that brings us a lot of comfort.”

Mr Crighton also said that he and the rest of Jamie’s family were gratreful to the Salvation Army and NHS mental health staff who had helped him.

“I’ve donated things to Swan Lodge and the crisis teams and that will continue,” he said.

“We just want to give something back for all they did for him.”