A worker died at his boss’ luxury home from a cocktail of cocaine and alcohol following a Christmas party, an inquest heard.
Andrew Whiston, 22, was found dead by his employer Nicholas Hepworth at his four-storey house in Upper Cumberworth on December 22, 2013.
Kirklees Coroner’s Court heard that Mr Whiston, of Lindley, had been partying with colleagues in Huddersfield town centre before continuing the festivities at his boss’ house.
A post mortem found Mr Whiston – a painter for Grange Moor Coachwork vehicle repairs – had taken a ‘potentially fatal’ dose of cocaine in the hours before his death.
The court heard that the toxic effects of cocaine had been exacerbated by Mr Whiston’s heavy drinking.
London-born Mr Whiston – known as ‘Cockney’ – had consumed the equivalent of at least nine pints of beer, the court heard.
But toxicologist Richard Sykes said the total amount consumed was likely to have been far greater.
Mr Sykes added that taking alcohol and cocaine together was particularly dangerous as it produces a toxic by-product called ‘cocaethyline’.
A friend of Mr Whiston’s told the court that another boss of the company, Andrew Beckton, had offered Mr Whiston ‘sniff’ in the toilet of a town centre bar on the night.
Mr Beckton and Mr Hepworth were both arrested following Mr Whiston’s death but were released without charge.
In court both denied possessing, offering or seeing any illegal drugs during the celebrations.
Coroner Mary Burke asked Mr Beckton: “Did you offer any drugs to Andrew (Whiston)?”
Mr Beckton replied: “No.”
Ms Burke: “Did you offer any drugs to anyone else?”
Mr Beckton: “No.”
Ms Burke: “Did you see any drugs being used when you were back at Nick’s (Hepworth) house?”
Mr Beckton: “No.”
Investigating Mr Whiston’s death, Det Sgt Adrian Belle said no evidence of drug use had been found at Mr Hepworth’s house but the detective noted that the home had been tidied before he arrived.
Recording a narrative verdict, Ms Burke commented: “I find it somewhat puzzling that there was no evidence whatsoever of any cocaine usage or paraphernalia associated with drug taking.”
Following the inquest Mr Whiston’s mother, Zoe, said: “There needs to be an awareness of taking drink and drugs no matter what age you are.
“It is impacting a great deal on our family especially for me and his two brothers and sisters. I’ve had to move back to London because there are too many bad memories here.
“Andrew was a funny lad, a happy-go-lucky chap who liked a laugh and a joke and he was a real friend to others.”