‘Killer heroin batch’ fears - inquests into two deaths

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INQUESTS have been held into the deaths of two out of three people found dead in the same weekend from suspected heroin overdoses.

Police launched a major investigation in February when it emerged three people had died within an hour of each other in Burnley and Pendle.

Early indications suggested there may have been a strong batch of heroin circulating locally.

But inquests into the deaths of Emlyn Hodgkinson (36) of Oak Street, Colne, and Robin Ferguson (52) of Spencer Street, Burnley, found they died from the combined effects of drugs.

An inquest into the death of the third person to die that weekend, Zaheer Chaudrey, of Eagle Street, Nelson, was adjourned for further investigations.

On February 25th, police were called by the ambulance service to a house in Tennis Street, Burnley, at 11-15 p.m. where they found the body of Mr Ferguson. Fifteen minutes later they were called to Oak Street, Colne, where they discovered the body of Mr Hodgkinson, and at 12-18 a.m. they found the body of Zaheer Chaudrey (32) in Nelson.

An inquest at Burnley Coroner’s Court into Mr Hodgkinson’s death heard from his housemate, long-standing friend and workmate Mr Nicholas Hopkins who said the pair had been working a night shift, returned home at 6 a.m. and started drinking. They fell asleep and Mr Hodgkinson later went to a local pub.

When Mr Hopkins saw his friend later in the pub he described him as “very drunk”. Later that evening he found him “sat on the floor but slumped on the bed”. Mr Hopkins called an ambulance but his friend had died.

Another friend, Mr Stephen Bailey, said he was with Mr Hodgkinson when he bought three bags of heroin from a supplier and described him as very drunk.

Dr Zuhair Twaij, who conducted the post-mortem examination, said toxicology tests found a high level of heroin in his blood, as well as a small amount of diazepam, and alcohol. He gave the cause of death as the combined toxic effects of the drugs.

East Lancashire Coroner Mr Richard Taylor recorded a verdict of accidental death.

An inquest was then heard into the death of Mr Robin Ferguson, which heard from his partner, Miss Michelle Watson, and Mr Mark Jackson.

Miss Watson said the couple had no fixed address and were staying at a friend’s home in Tennis Street. She said they were both drug addicts, using drugs daily. On the night of his death, Mr Ferguson had injected into his groin but “then knelt down and went very quiet,” according to Miss Watson.

She said she had also used the same heroin but was fine.

Pathologist Dr Twaij said toxicology tests revealed the presence of methadone, heroin and a small amount of diazepam in his blood. He gave the cause of death as the combined toxic effects of the drugs.

East Lancashire Coroner Mr Taylor recorded a verdict of accidental death.