Matlock Bath: Drugs warning after High Tor death

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A coroner has warned about the danger of cocaine after an inquest found drugs and debts led a young man to throw himself to his death from High Tor.

Assistant Derbyshire Coroner Paul McCandless concluded at Chesterfield coroner’s court last Thursday that 22-year-old Tom Caunt killed himself while he was disturbed by drugs and thousands of pounds of related loans.

Mr McCandless said: “He was a much-loved man, a loving lad, son, brother, nephew and mate. Sadly, he managed to get himself involved with drugs and in particular cocaine. People talk about cocaine as a recreational drug as though it can be used at weekends without addictive effects. But this tragic case shows how wrong this is. His drug addiction led to him running up considerable debts and becoming completely overwhelmed by the desperate situation he found himself in.”

The court heard how Caunt sent a text to friend Lexicon Rice, on December 7, last year, stating he had got himself into a desperate situation.

Mr McCandless added: “He sent a text expressing desperation at his situation of secret cocaine use and debts.”

Lexicon asked Tom where he was, according to the court, but when there was no text back he asked others about his whereabouts before travelling to Matlock Bath - which was one of Tom’s favourite places.

Mr McCandless revealed Lexicon found Tom’s car off the A6 road, at Artist’s Corner, and he searched the River Derwent and the High Tor Trail before calling Tom’s family and police. Derbyshire police launched a search and called in a mountain rescue team and officers found letters in Tom’s bedroom concerning a £15,000 loan and two loan applications for £7,000 and £11,700. Police confirmed a note found in Tom’s car indicated he was planning on taking his life and his body was discovered the following morning at the base of High Tor.

A post mortem revealed Tom, of King Street, Huthwaite, had suffered a fractured skull and brain swelling consistent with falling and there was evidence of previous cocaine use. The cause of death was given as soft and boney tissue injuries with cocaine misuse affecting function.

Mr McCandless added: “This man was overwhelmed by drugs and debt and everything points to him ending his life at the bottom of the cliff.”