Parents left stunned after hearing healthy son had taken heroin

Peter Clarke, who died in Tanzania
Peter Clarke, who died in Tanzania

Portsmouth coastguard called to reports of a body near Chichester

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A BODYGUARD who died in Africa had taken heroin while on a night out, an inquest heard.

Peter Clarke, 30, from Cowplain, was found dead by friends after a night out in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

His parents believed the former Royal Marine’s sudden death had been the result of an undiagnosed medical problem.

But a Portsmouth inquest heard how – despite traces of heroin-derived morphine in his body – he was otherwise completely healthy.

‘I am just stunned, I don’t know what to say,’ said his father William Clarke on hearing the results of toxicology tests.

The 57-year-old, of Silvester Road, Cowplain, added: ‘He would not have taken heroin, knowing him he would not have done that.

‘I can’t imagine Peter sticking a needle into his arm or smoking anything, that just wasn’t in his character.

‘He must have been self-medicating to relieve the pain, nothing else makes any sense.’

Mr Clarke’s family believe he suffered from a condition affecting his nasal passages, and he had booked an appointment with a London clinic for the day after he died.

His mum Teresa said: ‘I spoke to him a few days before he left for the ship, and he said he felt like he had been beaten up.

‘He was definitely in a lot of discomfort at the time.’

Mr Clarke had worked as a private security guard for nine months and would go out for several weeks at a time before returning home to Cowplain.

Reports from friends suggested that on the night before his body was found, he was acting normally and even sang karaoke in a local bar.

The bodyguard then returned to where he was staying and was found the next morning after apparently falling asleep while watching television.

His mum said: ‘I just can’t understand it, where would he have got drugs from?

‘It’s even more of a mystery now. I almost don’t believe it’s true.

‘But if that’s what the results say then I suppose we can’t argue with them.’

Confusion over how Mr Clarke died was caused initially by a botched post mortem examination carried out in Africa.

Doctors had blamed inflamed adenoids, which are glands at the back of the nose that can block the air passages, for his death – even though Mr Clarke’s had been removed several years ago.

His parents asked for a second post mortem to be carried out in the UK, but have been left even more baffled by its findings.

Portsmouth and South East Hampshire Coroner, David Horsley, said he was convinced Mr Clarke had not been a regular drug user.

He recorded a verdict of accidental death.

He said: ‘The only thing that makes sense to me is that he has taken this drug to get relief from his nasal problems. There is no evidence to say he took heroin just for the sake of taking it, and I don’t think that is what has happened.

‘I believe he has taken it without any thought of the consequences, and so has died due to a tragic accident.’