Questions remain over death of man overseas

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QUESTIONS remain over the death of a security guard in Sri Lanka after he was found with morphine in his system.

An inquest heard yesterday that Martin James, from Cosham, died while on deployment in Asia with a maritime security company.

The father-of-one, who served 11 years in the army, was on a night out with colleagues when he died in the early hours of February 2.

The inquest heard toxicology reports found Mr James had a small level of morphine in his system associated with street heroin. But Mr James’ family are adamant he would never knowingly take drugs.

His father Glenn James said: ‘Martin was against smoking and he used to drink in moderation. But even then it wasn’t often that he drank.

‘I will not believe – until someone shows me scientific evidence – that Martin took heroin knowingly.’

The family suggested his drink could have been spiked at a bar. But there was no evidence suggesting how the drug got into Mr James’ system.

The inquest heard written statements from Mr James’ colleagues that they had gone to bars to watch sport.

David Feane’s statement said: ‘The bars weren’t very good so me and Martin went back to the villa to get an MP3 player, speakers and orange juice.

‘I ran inside to get it because I didn’t want to wake the people who had already returned from the bars.

‘When I got back to the taxi, I thought Martin had fallen asleep. I soon saw his lips were blue and started CPR. I then told the taxi driver to go to the hospital.’

Pathologist Dr Barbara Borek concluded that Mr James died from respiratory problems, most likely caused by the heroin in his system.

But heart specialist Dr Mary Sheppard said Mr James had coronary artery disease and his left artery was blocked. She said it could be a combination of the heart condition and the heroin which caused his death.

Coroner David Horsley ruled his death was an accident. He said: ‘There are an awful lot of questions we cannot get answers to. There’s just not the evidence into how Martin died.

‘I don’t think he would have knowingly taken street heroin.

‘It has inadvertently got into his system.’