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Thursday, 21 August 2014

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Coroner's warning after sudden death of Carlisle dad

A warning has been issued about the dangers of combining cocaine and alcohol, after the sudden death of an adored father.

Mark Lakin, of Pennine Way, Harraby, Carlisle, died three days after taking the recreational drug.

An inquest heard that he took cocaine only very occasionally, it was his lack of tolerance for the Class A substance combined with vodka which caused his heart to fail.

The 41-year-old dad-of-two collapsed at home on Tuesday September 10 and died in hospital shortly after arrival.

Coroner David Roberts, sitting at the city’s Old Courts, was told that there was no evidence of cocaine found in Mr Lakin’s body, but Jayne, his wife of 10 years confirmed that he had taken the drug several days earlier.

“On the Saturday night he drank about half of a one litre bottle of vodka,” Mrs Lakin, 34, told the inquest. “He also took some cocaine – about 0.5g – by inhaling it up his nose.”

Asked about whether her husband had a habit, she vehemently denied it, insisting he only took the drug “occasionally”, often months apart.

Histopathologist Dr Zouheir Maarouf, based at Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary, told the inquest: “Cocaine plus alcohol can be far more toxic to the body than just cocaine.

“[The combination] can extend the effects on the body from hours to days, which would explain why Mr Lakin died several days after the use of cocaine.”

The doctor explained that after drinking alcohol and using cocaine, the liver produces a substance called cocaethylene. The effects of this last much longer and can be much more toxic.

Mr Roberts accepted that had Mr Lakin known the risks of his actions, he would not have taken the drug.

“I am entirely satisfied Mark Lakin had no idea he was taking this sort of risk,” he continued. “He was a fit young man whose lifestyle seems to have centred around family and sport.”

The coroner gave the cause of death as pulmonary edema leading to heart failure, and recorded a verdict of “misadventure”.

Mr Roberts went on to issue a wider health warning, in the hope of alerting the “recreational user” to the little-known dangers.

“It does seem that those who use cocaine infrequently may be at a greater risk than those who use it on a more regular basis,” he said. “The consumption of alcohol with it is a significant risk factor.”

Offering his sympathies to Mr Lakin’s family, Mr Roberts added: “I hope, if anything can come out of this, people who use cocaine might think again so there isn’t another tragedy to strike a family the way this has struck yours.”

Mark Lakin’s family paid tribute to the “best son-in-law”, the “best striker”, a top footballer and a much-loved son and brother.

His heartbroken wife added: “He was an amazing father, husband and friend: a great guy.”

Mr Lakin’s death sent shockwaves through the community, particularly within the local football scene.

As a tribute, teammates from both Howard Rangers Veterans FC and Beehive FC retired the number 10 football shirt – the only shirt which “Laky” would wear.

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