Portsmouth man overdosed on heroin after buying drugs with £380 given to him after prison release

A DEVASTATED mum told an inquest of her anger after her drug-addict son died of an overdose after buying heroin with money he was given when leaving prison - with a coroner likening it to ‘letting an alcoholic loose in a pub’.

Tuesday, 26th November 2019, 5:14 pm
Updated Tuesday, 26th November 2019, 5:56 pm
The Coroner's Court in Portsmouth Picture: Malcolm Wells (180405-3355)

Homeless Andrew Bishop, 46, was found slumped in a disabled toilet at John Pounds Centre in Queen Street, Portsmouth, on April 29, just days after his release back into society.

The deceased’s mum Sylvia Bishop told Portsmouth Coroner’s Court how she had concerns about the lack of support her son had when coming out of jail - criticising the logic of handing him £380 cash.

She said: ‘Heroin is rife in Portsmouth and Gosport. It causes so many deaths.

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‘When Andrew came out of prison they gave him £380 rather than vouchers. They didn’t even contact us to say when he was leaving. We could have helped him.’

The inquest heard how Mr Bishop had arranged to visit his parents and brothers after his release from jail but never showed - with the long-term drug and alcohol addict instead buying drugs.

But having abstained from drugs while inside, Mr Bishop’s tolerance levels would have reduced from when he was a regular user on the streets.

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Coroner John Matthews said: ‘He relapsed after being given a large sum of money. It’s like giving sweets to a diabetic or letting an alcoholic loose in a pub.

‘The amount of heroin he took would not normally have killed him but did because his lower tolerance levels.’

The hearing heard how Mr Bishop’s life was blighted by drug and alcohol abuse after leaving school.

‘I brought him down to Portsmouth so he could join the navy but he didn’t do it and never really worked,’ Mrs Bishop said.

‘We always remained in contact and before he went into prison he wrote a letter saying he had been treated for Hepatitis C and was feeling much better.

‘He said he was not going to get in trouble any more and would stay off drugs.

‘On April 24, my birthday, he came out of prison and said he would come and see us but he never turned up.’

The court was told how Mr Bishop was found by a man and his young daughter, who called for help. But he was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics with a syringe found nearby.

Pathologist Dr Adnan Al-badri confirmed a ‘potentially lethal range’ of heroin was found in Mr Bishop’s body.

Mr Matthews recorded a verdict of death by self-induced drug abuse. ‘Sadly we still don’t understand how addiction can grip someone’s existence,’ he said.