A ‘FREE spirit’ with hopes of embarking on an exciting new career died after injecting heroin at his Davenham home, an inquest has heard.

Taxi driver Nicholas James Appleton, who went by the name Jamie, was found dead aged 44 on January 2.

Toxicologists say his medication for anxiety is likely to have mixed with the heroin to make a fatal combination.

In a statement read out at Warrington Coroners’ Court on Wednesday, July 8, Jamie’s dad Colin Appleton described his last encounter with his son just the day before he died.

He spent three hours with Jamie during a meal, where he was in a ‘relaxed and talkative mood’, but said he was ‘tired after working over Christmas and New Year’.

“Jamie was a free spirit who loved to travel and valued his independence,” said Colin.

“He could never settle in a regular job and he always wanted to run his own business and be his own boss. He had high hopes.”

Colin described his son as a sports fan who enjoyed keeping fit in the gym, fishing and making videos using his drone.

Jamie was hoping to retrain as an audiologist through a part-time university course, Colin added, and he was looking forward to enjoying a holiday in Turkey in March.

His wife Marites Appleton explained that Jamie had wanted to go abroad to celebrate his birthday this year, and that he had ‘showed no signs of depression’ in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

She was away in the Philippines over the New Year period, and last spoke to Jamie on Skype at 3am on January 2, before he was due to take someone to the airport at 6am.

Police attended Jamie’s home, in Ellingham Way, at 5pm that day, where he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Sgt Neil Wharmby, from Northwich local policing unit, described how Jamie was found in the en-suite of the main bedroom alongside drugs and paraphernalia.

He spoke to Ben Owen, a close friend of Jamie who hosted him at his home the night before, where Jamie told him a ‘treat had arrived’ – meaning the heroin.

Sgt Wharmby told the inquest: “Ben said that Jamie was in a very good mood and they were planning trips together.

“Ben also said that he was aware of Jamie’s lifestyle and drug use. He also stated that Jamie had taken heroin in the past and he gets it from the dark web.”

A toxicology report found that Jamie had heroin in his system, along with low levels of the painkiller oxycodone and diazepam, which is often used to treat anxiety.

The report explained that these drugs all act to depress the nervous system, making the combination lethal.

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Alan Moore, senior coroner for Cheshire, concluded that the death was drug related.

He said: “Heroin, oxycodone and diazepam were all found in Jamie’s system so they will have acted together in combination to have depressed the central nervous system, causing respiratory depression and leading to Jamie’s death.

“The police attending the scene confirmed that there were no suspicious circumstances and there was no suggestion whatsoever that Jamie had intended to take his own life.”