Corby 'gentle giant' died after accidental drug overdose

An inquest has heard of that the 32-year-old had 'everything to live for' after overcoming a series of tragedies in his life

Friday, 18th June 2021, 4:59 am
Sessions House. File picture.
Sessions House. File picture.

Police found a Corby man dead in his room after he had taken an accidental overdose of cocaine and sedatives, a coroner has heard.

An inquest sitting at Sessions House in Northampton was told that Darren Stephenson, known as Darn, had suffered a series of tragedies in his life that he had overcome. His mum told the court that she believed her son, who was just 32, had 'everything to live for'.

The court heard how Darren's family had moved to Corby after a member of the family had died in awful circumstances when he was younger.

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In 2011 he had been involved in a serious car accident which left him in intensive care for just over a month and having to be revived several times. It left him with ongoing health issues.

Medical evidence from his GP recorded how he was stabbed in the back and punched in the head in 2013, leaving him with serious injuries.

In April last year, Darren had been living in a shared house in Eastbrook, Corby, when he met local woman Gemma Vickery.

In a statement to police, Ms Vickery said that she had first met Darren a few days before his death on April 25 and the pair had smoked a joint together in his room.

She said Darren had been upset because he said he was 'looking at a long sentence' for a recent offence. She had gone to sleep in the room and awoke at about 6pm on April 24, before going back to sleep again until the following day.

She said that Darren had been taking some tablets which she believed to be street valium.

His family were prevented from asking questions of Ms Vickery as the court could not make contact with her in order for her to appear as a witness at yesterday's (Thursday, June 17) inquest.

One of Darren's neighbours told the court he had been concerned for his friend after noticing that he had not seen him or heard him moving about for a while. He said this was out of character so he phoned the landlord to do a welfare check but he said he was greeted with a dismissive tone.

When a police officer arrived at the property he realised Darren had been dead for some time.

During a postmortem, evidence was found of cocaine, benzodiazepine and flubromazolam - a substance often found in street valium, which can be more potent than prescribed valium and can make it easier for people to overdose.

Darren's mum May Rattigan said that her son had struggled following his car accident but was not a drug addict.

"He survived with great difficulty having been revived on several occasions," she said.

"He began dabbling with recreational drugs and drink and went to prison.

"In 2018 he was released from prison and was doing amazingly. We were all so proud of him."

But Darren's seizures caused by his brain injury became worse and he was referred to a neurologist. He was waiting for the appointment, which was delayed by Covid, when he died.

She said she had seen her son before his death when he had come around to her house for a coffee. A woman was with him who his mum didn't know.

She added: "He had everything to live for until this girl, a complete stranger, came along.

"He was a big gentle giant with a heart of gold.

"We love and miss Darren greatly."

Coroner Anne Pember said that she didn't believe Darren had any intention of ending his life and returned a verdict of accidental death.