A CORONER expressed his sadness at what he called “a tragic waste of a young life” when he was told how a North Camp man died after sniffing lighter fuel.
North East Hampshire coroner Andrew Bradley was commenting during the inquest into the death of 22-year-old Peter Dale.
The Basingstoke inquest was told how Peter collapsed after sniffing lighter fuel he had sprayed on to his sweatshirt while walking home with friend Adam Lowes.
Adam, who had known Peter for six years and attended The Sixth Form College, Farnborough, with him, told the inquest that a group of friends were enjoying a Friday night at Peter’s flat in Camp Road, North Camp on November 1.
Adam said the group spent the evening drinking and watching television. Peter was drinking and also smoked some marijuana.
Adam and Peter went out to get some food and Adam noticed that Peter also bought two canisters of lighter fuel.
As the pair walked back, Peter was spraying the lighter fuel on to his sweatshirt and then inhaling it. Adam said he did not think it was unusual because he had seen Peter inhaling lighter fuel before.
As the pair walked along Camp Road, Peter suddenly collapsed and fell face down on the pavement.
Adam said he telephoned Peter’s girlfriend and his other friends to tell them, while someone else called an ambulance.
“Peter just blacked out so quickly — it looked as though there wasn’t much the ambulance crew could do to help him,” said Adam.
“A few minutes after arriving at hospital he had died. I am still coming to terms with the death of a very good friend.”
Adam said he had seen Peter inhale gas many times. “He liked the head rush and the buzz it gave him,” he said.
Kirsty Rigby told the inquest she was walking along Camp Road when she saw two men in front of her.
She saw one of the men raising both hands to his face but could not see what he was doing because he had his back to her. Suddenly she saw one of the men fall over onto the pavement “like a pencil” and a yellow canister rolling from where he lay.
Kirsty said the man’s eyes were shut and he was struggling to breathe.
She said she had received First Aid training at school and gave him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Mr Bradley praised Kirsty during the inquest at Basingstoke on Tuesday.
“Thank you for what you did that night,” he told her.
“You came out of nowhere to help this man and thank God you had the training to do that.”
The inquest was told the ambulance crew gave Richard electric shock treatment a number of times but it was to no avail.
Recording a verdict of misadventure, Mr Bradley said: “I find these inquests the most difficult I ever have to deal with because of the tragic waste of a young life for what people call recreational drugs. You get a head rush and a buzz — I wonder how good it was.”
Addressing Peter’s friends and family, Mr Bradley said: “I am sorry to do this to you but I just hope someone will think of Peter before they get that lighter fuel out.
“My sympathy goes out to you because this is a complete waste of life — I can’t put it any other way. By the time he’d hit the ground he was dead.
The wounds, which should have gushed blood didn’t because his system had stopped and he died instantly.”
“Peter did not intend to die, it was a horrible mistake. No words can extend my sympathy to you.”
After the inquest, Pc Richard Adair, who investigated the death, paid tribute to Peter.
“He was a dedicated hard working lad who used drugs only occasionally,” he said.
“He helped his mum at Lynchford Aquatics in Peabody Road, North Camp, where he was extremely helpful and very knowledgeable. He went out of his way to help the customers.
“He made a foolish error of judgment and paid the ultimate price. It is a tragic waste of life.”