Blackpool man collapsed and died in friend’s flat following tragic death of his mum

Joe Higginbottom had started using heroin and crack cocaine after his mum died in 2017

Blackpool man who became addicted to drugs after the death of his mum collapsed and died in front of his friend.

Electrician Joe Higginbottom had started to smoke heroin and crack cocaine after his mum died in 2017. Although he was at times estranged from his family he had been in contact with his brother Luke in the months leading up to his death.

On June 8, Joe turned up unannounced at the home of his friend Paul Vasili in Spencer Court. He had brought some food with him to cook the pair a meal but Paul told Joe he had run out of electricity.

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After eating a sandwich Joe stood up in the lounge and began to make a groaning sound. Paul said his friend then fell forwards and, after catching Joe, Paul laid him on the floor and called an ambulance.

Despite paramedics attempting to resuscitate Joe he couldn’t be revived and was pronounced dead at the scene. Post mortem toxicology tests later revealed the cause of death was heroin and cocaine toxicity.

An inquest held at Blackpool Town Hall today (September 27), attended by Joe’s brother Luke, heard that the family ‘had tried to support him’ in tackling his addiction but he continued to use drugs. He was also awaiting an operation for heart disease.

Reading a statement from Paul Vasili, Assistant Coroner Patrick Cassidy said: “I was at home when my friend Joe came around at 7.30pm, he turned up unannounced and knocked at my door. He had a bag with him, he said he had brought my some food and asked if I wanted any.

“I said I had run out of electricity so I couldn’t cook. I said I had a sandwich in the fridge and to help himself. He ate the sandwich.

“When he finished it he stood up and made a groaning noise and started to fall forward but never put his arms up to stop himself. I leapt up to try and stop him falling and broke his fall. I helped him to the floor and called 999.

“Ten minutes later a paramedic arrived. I was asked if Joe had taken anything and I said ‘I know he takes heroin and crack cocaine, he smokes it on a regular basis but as far as I’m aware he hasn’t had any drugs whilst in my flat’.

“I’ve known Joe since October 2021 when I met him through a friend and we got on well. There were occasions when he would stay at my flat sleeping on the sofa.”

Returning a conclusion of drug-related death, the coroner said: “Joe Michael Higginbottom was in the lounge when he collapsed in an unresponsive state. Paramedics attended but he could not be revived and he was pronounced deceased at the scene.”

  • 05:35, 28 SEP 2022

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