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Inquest hears drug addict, taken to court after begging for money from a PCSO, died of heroin overdose

PUBLISHED: 14:52 16 November 2017 | UPDATED: 16:29 16 November 2017

Norfolk Coroner's Court. Photo by Simon Finlay

Norfolk Coroner's Court. Photo by Simon Finlay

Archant Norfolk Copyright

A drug addict, who was taken to court for begging when he asked a Police Community Support Officer for money, died of a heroin overdose, an inquest has heard.

Robert O’Dell, 28, who lived at a hostel for the homeless in Dibden Road, Norwich, died in May last year.

An inquest, held in Norwich, heard Mr O’Dell had struggled with addiction to heroin, but had sought help from the Norfolk Recovery Partnership.

However, the inquest heard he had been “erratic” at picking up his prescriptions for methadone, a heroin substitute meant to ease his withdrawal from the drug.

But when he went a number of days without collecting his methadone, it meant his prescription was stopped.

The inquest was told that, in the days before his death, Mr O’Dell had been taken to hospital after collapsing. It heard that he was suffering from pain in his legs and had sores on his feet.

A statement was read out from one of his friends, who said he had found Mr O’Dell unresponsive in the living room at a house in Rosary Road, Norwich, on Sunday, May 7.

A post mortem examination found there were needle wounds in his groin, while toxicology reports found traces of heroin, cocaine and paracetamol. The cause of death was given as heroin toxicity and hypertensive heart disease.

Norfolk senior coroner Jacqueline Lake concluded Mr O’Dell’s death was drug-related, against a background of heart disease. She offered her condolences to his family and friends.

In October last year, Mr O’Dell appeared before Norwich magistrates after he asked a PCSO “if he could spare any change”.

He pleaded guilty to begging in a public place on September 28 2016. The court heard he had been caught begging twice before in the previous 12 months.

He signed an acceptable behaviour contract stating he would not beg for money or other goods in the city centre.

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