An Outwell man began to suffer from drug addiction following the death of his grandfather, an inquest has heard.

Richard Nelson, 47, of Church Terrace, was found dead at his home in March last year.

The former ground worker, who lived on his own, had died from a heroin overdose following a long history of drug and alcohol misuse.

An inquest into Mr Nelson’s death, held at Norfolk Coroner’s Court in Norwich on Tuesday, heard that as a child Mr Nelson was a “kind, gentle, laid-back and happy little boy”.

But when his parents split in the 1990s his behaviour changed and became more “volatile”, the inquest heard.

He also had low self-esteem and suffered anxiety and was suspected to have been dyslexic, but never formally diagnosed.

In a statement read out at the inquest, Mr Nelson’s mother Margaret Nelson said her son’s addiction issues began after her father died of a heart attack.

She said her son had been “extremely close” to his grandad.

The inquest heard Mr Nelson’s job initially funded his addiction, but he stopped working as his health deteriorated which saw him suffer from abscesses through heroin use.

Mr Nelson agreed to undergo rehabilitation and was prescribed methadone, which his mother would regularly pick up from the chemist for him. Although Mr Nelson did relapse with drugs, he did manage to cut his alcohol intake significantly to one can of Guinness a day, the inquest heard.

Mrs Nelson said in her statement over the coming years her son’s general health deteriorated and he lost his driving licence in 2010.

He was referred to the Fermoy Unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn for detox.

And he was referred to social services in 2016 and Change Grow Live (CGL), a health and social care charity in recent years.

But the inquest heard Mr Nelson’s engagement with services fluctuated.

The inquest was told in 2017, Mr Nelson’s elder brother David died in an accident at work, which left him and the family devastated.

“And because of this dreadful pandemic, I knew he would struggle,” said Mrs Nelson.

She told the inquest she “never knew which Richard I was going to get” as he had “multiple personalities”, he lived in awful living conditions and neglected himself.

“Richard had many conversations about ending his life. It was always a possibility and a constant worry.

“He told me he felt like a germ. I tried to reassure him he was a lovely person,” she said.

On March 6, Mrs Nelson received a phone call to say her son had died.

“For him to die alone in that way is unbearable, doesn’t bear thinking about,” she said in her statement.

Mr Nelson Sr said his son, who he nicknamed Harry, could be argumentative and other times “absolutely fine”.

 However, leading up to his son’s death, Mr Nelson Sr said he had a gut feeling his son was still using heroin and would check on him regularly at his home.

“Harry was very private, he never let me inside,” he said.

On March 6, at around 1.45pm, Mr Nelson Sr knocked on his son’s door but there was no reply, so he went inside and saw his son was asleep.

He returned in the evening and after letting himself in, he saw his son was dead and there was burnt tin foil nearby.

A toxicology report found Mr Nelson had a high level of morphine as well as methadone in his blood.

He also had paracetamol, diazepam and codeine in his blood which were in the “therapeutic range”.

A post mortem examination concluded Mr Nelson had died from opioid toxicity. 

Concluding, area coroner Yvonne Blake said even though Mrs Nelson had said her son had talked about taking his life, she said she could not find any evidence to support this.

“There was no note. For all we know it could’ve been a bad batch of heroin. There is nothing tangible. I think the only appropriate conclusion is drug-related death.”