Barman who died from drug-related death had 'big life plans'

Coast to Coast at the Riverside leisure quarter in Norwich. Picture: Archant

Coast to Coast at the Riverside leisure quarter in Norwich. - Credit: Neil Didsbury

A barman who died from a drug-related death had big life plans, according to his father.

George Smith, 21, from Wymer Street off Dereham Road in Norwich, was found dead in his home on July 15 last year just after 4.30pm, a day after his relationship with his girlfriend ended.

An inquest, held by area coroner Yvonne Blake at Norwich's County Hall on June 29, heard that Mr Smith had struggled after being put on furlough and then being made redundant from his job at Norwich's Coast to Coast restaurant because of the Covid lockdown.

Evidence from mental health professionals, his GP, ex-girlfriend, father and housemate revealed Mr Smith had a history of mental ill health and alcohol abuse but had sought help from mental health services and Narcotics Anonymous and was seeking support.

Mr Smith's father, Ashley Smith, said his son was happy in his relationship with his girlfriend, which started a few months before his death.

He said: "I know my son and I know of no reason why he would taken his own life. He had big life plans."

Mr Smith said the 21-year-old did not find life easy after his parents' relationship ended in divorce 10 years ago and he lived with his mother in Suffolk before moving in with him in 2019.

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The delivery driver added he would often give his son money to help him out, which he said said was for wine and cigarettes.

Mr Smith would drink a bottle of wine a night at the time of his death, which was less than the previous amount he used to drink, according to inquest evidence.

Toxicology and pathology reports revealed the barman had low levels of alcohol in his blood and it was not a contributory factor to his death. There were also no suspicious circumstances.

The inquest heard Mr Smith had restarted using illicit and prescription drugs on a more regular basis since April 2020 but there was no evidence he had intended to take his own life.

Mr Smith's GP, Dr Hilary Burgess, from Norwich Practices Health Centre, said he had long-standing depression, suicidal thoughts and anxiety.

On the day his body was discovered he was due to have a youth mental health services appointment.

The barman had also planned to travel to his father's home around the day he was found after calling him about the relationship break-up.

Ms Blake reported that the medical cause of death was combined drug toxicity.