Respected former Sunderland hospital pharmacist died after taking combination of illegal drugs

Sunderland Royal Hospital.
Sunderland Royal Hospital.
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A former Sunderland hospital pharmacist died after taking a combination of illegal drugs, an inquest heard.

Forty-year-old Richard Larkin died at the Travelodge in High Street West in October.

Sunderland Coroner's Court

Sunderland Coroner's Court

An inquest at Sunderland Coroner’s Court heard he was a respected professional, who had had a number of articles printed and was a regular speaker at conferences, but had become involved with drug misuse in recent times.

Coroner’s officer Vicky Ross told the hearing: “On the seventh of October, he misused a number of substances, following which it is believed he went on to have some form of seizure.”

Paramedics had been unable to save Mr Larkin and his death had been confirmed at 5.30am on the morning of October 8.

A post-mortem toxicological tests revealed concentrations of methamphetamine ‘at a level that has been associated with fatalities’ and cocaine.

It seems very sad that your husband had such a promising career, that drugs have got hold of him, and things have gone as they have.

Karin Welsh

The use of more than one drug with a similar side effect could increase the likelihood that the results would be fatal, said Mrs Ross.

The tests had also revealed the presence of other substances, but pathologist Dr Jennifer Bolton did not believe they had contributed to what had happened.

Death had been due to the effects of a combination of the methamphetamine and cocaine.

Deputy coroner Karin Welsh said she was satisfied Mr Larkin, of Belvedere Road, Ashbrooke, had deliberately taken the drugs but had not intended to take his own life.

“I feel it is appropriate in this case that a conclusion of misadventure is reached,” she said.

“Mr Larkin has embarked of a course of action - in other words that he was taken the drugs when he did - but when he did so, he had not intended that his death would be a consequence of that.”

Addressing Mr Larkin’s wife, she added: “I cannot begin to imagine what you have gone through in the past couple of months.

“It seems very sad that your husband had such a promising career, that drugs have got hold of him, and things have gone as they have.

“All I can do is offer my condolences to your family.”

A spokeswoman for Sunderland City Hospitals confirmed Mr Larkin had worked for the trust from 2004 until January last year.