Coroner calls for action on legal highs after death

Portsmouth and south-east Hampshire coroner David Horsley has called for action to be taken on legal highs
Portsmouth and south-east Hampshire coroner David Horsley has called for action to be taken on legal highs
23/11/2016 (DR)

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A CORONER has called for action to be taken on legal highs after a man died from a heart attack hours after snorting the drug.

Matthew Flatman, 35, had cried out in pain saying his chest felt like it was ripping apart the morning after taking Gocaine – labelled not fit for human consumption.

Portsmouth and south-east Hampshire coroner David Horsley said the drug was a significant contributory factor in the heart attack leading to the cardiac arrest that killed the father-of-three.

He recorded a narrative verdict at the inquest into Mr Flatman’s death, saying the chemical – available over the counter – had added extra strain to the active man’s already-diseased heart.

At Portsmouth Coroner’s Court Mr Horsley said: ‘In my view there’s a clear and serious link between Matthew taking this substance and his death. I don’t want Matthew’s death to be in vain.’

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage has tabled a question to the Home Office asking what can be done about legal highs.

She said: ‘The problem is those things come on the market with such frightening regularity. As soon as you ban something, another one springs up in its place.

‘Gosport police have raised it with me as one of their priorities.’

Mr Flatman’s wife Naomi, 30, said she and rugby player Matthew snorted five lines each through a straw from the 1g packet of Gocaine at their home in Rogers Close.

The pair finished taking the drug about 30 to 45 minutes before they went to bed at 2am on July 5 last year.

She said: ‘We had about the same amount, about five lines spread over a period of time.

‘He was awake (in the morning) and seemed ok. He said that his jaw felt funny and his arms were aching.

‘I thought it was because our little boy got into the bed.

‘He started to complain that he hurt a lot more so I phoned an ambulance.’

After the call at 7.32am, paramedic Joe Hunter rushed to the home to treat Matthew, who felt dizzy and fell back on to the bed.

The paramedic carried out CPR but was unable to move Matthew from the bed as he was alone due to a staffing problem on the day.

South Central Ambulance Service also dispatched a two-man ambulance from Southsea seafront and it arrived a short time later.

Matthew was pronounced dead at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham after attempts were made to save him.

Questions were raised about the service’s actions and why an ambulance had to come from Portsmouth.

But Mr Horsley said: ‘They did their best.’

Mr Horsley read out information received from Donna Morgan, substance misuse manager at HMP Kirkham.

Reading from an advert for Gocaine, he said the drug was marketed for the ‘head-strong’ and as a ‘research chemical’.

Mr Flatman, who had taken Gocaine before, had bought the drug from the Bushman shop in Stoke Road, Gosport.

Owner Edward Mountifield said he no longer sells the drug but does sell others.

He said: ‘It’s purely customer driven, I don’t display it.’

Staff at a shop in Fareham that used to sell legal highs told The News it no longer does.

The inquest heard Mr Flatman’s cardiac arrest started at home and that there is just a two per cent chance of survival when they occur outside a hospital.