Published: 4 May, 2012
by WILLIAM McLENNAN
THE last moments of a man who had struggled with drug abuse will remain unknown after police failed to track down key witnesses, an inquest heard this week.
Three people who were with David Buxton, 49, when he had a heart attack in a Clerkenwell Green flat that police believe was used for drug dealing, have vanished and were unable to shed light on what happened in the lead-up to his death.
Mr Buxton’s family, who had been unaware he was struggling with a history of “harmful use of cocaine”, received an apology for the lack of information from the coroner at St Pancras Coroner’s Court on Tuesday.
Selena Lynch, assistant deputy coroner, said: “There are so many unanswered questions and I’m so sorry for your loss. I hope, with time, you can find some happy memories from his childhood.”
Mr Buxton had no pulse when ambulance staff arrived at the flat in January but they managed to restart his heart and rushed him to University College Hospital, where he later died after suffering a second heart attack.
A laboratory report read to the court found traces of cocaine, amphetamines and MDMA (Ecstasy) in Mr Buxton’s body and said it is possible that combined use of all three drugs could have caused the heart attacks.
When police arrived at the scene they found drugs paraphernalia and a silver tray with traces of white powder, but no drugs could be found inside the flat.
The first officer on the scene, PC Dave O’Hara, told the inquest that the evidence led him to believe somebody in the flat had been dealing drugs. However, there was no suggestion that Mr Buxton had been doing so himself.
Mr Buxton once fled the UK as he feared for his life after becoming involved with drug dealers, the court heard.
Mr Buxton, who was unemployed and had no fixed address for more than a year, had last contacted his family in December 2010.
Ms Lynch recorded a verdict of death by non-dependent use of drugs. She said: “Mr Buxton took drugs himself knowingly and willingly and that led to his death. Taking drugs, using drugs, being a customer or a dealer is a dangerous business.”
She added: “There are no obvious signs of foul play.”