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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

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Cumbrian martial arts man found dead in bed, inquest told

A rising star in martial arts died suddenly at home days after his 24th birthday.

Joshua David Firth was found dead in bed on April 17. He had been living at Fell House on Duke Street, Workington, a supported-living complex run by the Croftlands Trust, an inquest into his death heard.

A keen competitor in mixed martial arts, he had used fitness training to tackle challenges caused by mental health problems.

Staff became concerned about him after he failed to attend an appointment and police broke in when they found the security chain secured on his door.

Simon Ward, assistant coroner for north and west Cumbria, heard that Mr Firth had been diagnosed with autism as a child and later with bipolar affective disorder. He had previously suffered breathing problems caused by allergies.

Mr Ward recorded an open conclusion and said: “It may well be that it was an allergy but I simply don’t have the evidence.”

Mr Firth went to university after school but ended up getting into fights and spent a short time in a young offenders institution.

Mr Firth was adopted at the age of four and later decided to change his surname, eventually having it tattooed on his back.

His mother Carol Firth said he had coped well with the challenges he faced.

She added: “You’d never know half the time how much he struggled. He was an amazing person.”

Mrs Firth told the inquest that her son had been on medication for some time but latterly had controlled his mood through exercise.

She said: “He’d exercise hyperness away. When he was low he’d exercise until he felt a lot better.

“In the last three years he was amazing. He was doing it by himself.”

The inquest heard that Mr Firth had liked Fell House because it was close to the gym where he trained. He had a mixed martial arts competition coming up when he died.

Mrs Firth said: “They were looking at him being an up-and-coming star.”

The night before he died Mr Firth spoke to a neighbour and said he planned to travel to Leeds to visit his daughter but, after returning to his flat, he never went out.

The inquest heard that Mr Firth had low levels of anxiety and pain-relieving drugs in his system but there was no evidence they contributed to his death. Mr Ward accepted a pathologist’s conclusion that Mr Firth died from aspiration of stomach contents.

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