Drug death tragedy

TRAGIC Gareth Reade had the world at his feet. The highly intelligent former public schoolboy had planned to read international law at university - but his dreams were cut short by a crippling drug habit which ultimately claimed his life.

TRAGIC Gareth Reade had the world at his feet.

The highly intelligent former public schoolboy had planned to read international law at university - but his dreams were cut short by a crippling drug habit which ultimately claimed his life.

Today, his shattered family urged others to learn from his descent into addiction and warned that no one is immune from the deadly grip of substance abuse.

His loved ones spoke out after an inquest at Ipswich police station yesterday, recorded a verdict of accidental death.

The 37-year-old, a former pupil at Orwell Park School in Nacton, was found dead at a house in Felixstowe on November 9.

He had overdosed on heroin after spending �50 on his fix.

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The Big Issue seller's half-brother Diggory Warren, 32, told how Mr Reade had developed an addiction to heroin after first smoking opium while travelling in India in the early 90s.

On his return, Mr Reade's habit rapidly spiralled out of control.

Repeated attempts by his family to rescue him from the lifestyle into which he had descended failed, the attraction of hard drugs too strong to resist.

Mr Warren also revealed how his and Mr Reade's older brother, Darren, was murdered in Bristol around 15 years ago after a similar descent into drug dependency.

He said: “Gareth wasn't like the traditional image of a junkie. He didn't steal. He had a good education and good morals.

“I think it was Darren's involvement in drugs which first attracted Gareth towards heroin. He was on a journey of discovery.

“At that time, he didn't understand the nature of it. He didn't know it would develop into a problem.

“And he didn't have the strength to stop. He was always riding the edge of death - that's the game addicts play.”

Mr Reade's mother, Paula Bethell, described her son as a “brain box”.

She said: “He was highly intelligent. The fact he got into this was made worse because his intelligence was wasted.”

Mr Reade, who sold the Big Issue on the streets of Ipswich, overdosed on several occasions, but despite the numerous warnings from family and friends and his own awareness of what he was doing to himself, he could not stop injecting heroin.

Mr Warren said: “He was dicing with death.

“We tried so many times to get him away from his own life, but the only way an addict will stop taking drugs is if they want to.”

Mrs Bethell said that despite the tragedy, she has sought comfort in knowing how her son died.

She said: “I have a gratefulness he is not lying in a gutter having been beaten up or run over. At least I know what happened to him.

“He was with friends and he knew he had family who cared for him and loved him.”

Have you been affected by drug addiction? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

GARETH Reade's stable upbringing bucks the traditional image of a heroin user.

Born into an affluent middle class family, his half-brother said it was his addictive personality which paved his descent into drug taking.

Diggory Warren said: “Gareth used heroin extensively in India.

“When he returned, he had one of two options - clean himself up or continue taking drugs. But there was no choice for him - he couldn't live without the buzz.

“When he returned from India, he looked extremely ill. He insisted he go to Ipswich and from then on he submerged into the underworld.

“We realised he was hooked. We told him that whenever he had had enough, come to us and we'll sort it out. It took nine months for him to come back to us for help.”

He eventually moved to leafy and prosperous Harpenden in Hertfordshire where he lived with his father and worked in the family business.

But it was not long before the craving for drugs overwhelmed him.

Mr Warren said: “Two months after moving to live with his father, he was already missing the drugs. It all became too much for him. He was working but it wasn't enough to match the buzz.

“The hard part isn't giving them up - it's getting clean and staying clean.”

Mr Reade's mother, Paula Bethell added: “Right up until the end of his life, he tried to hide what he was doing from us.

“But he was extremely happy. Although he didn't live with us, he knew that if he was in trouble he could come home.

“We miss him terribly.”

The Inquest:

GARETH Reade was found dead at a house in Felixstowe on November 9 after sharing �50 of heroin with two friends.

Police and paramedics were called to Tomline Road shortly after 3pm where they found the 37-year-old fully clothed, lying on the floor with a cushion beneath his head.

Despite desperate attempts to resuscitate Mr Reade, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

At yesterday's inquest, Greater Suffolk Coroner Dr Peter Dean recorded a verdict of accidental death.

He said: “This was not a deliberate act.

“What happened was a tragic accidental overdose which emphasises the extreme dangers of drug use.”

He said a post mortem had found that morphine levels in Mr Reade's blood were in the range associated with fatality while traces of alcohol were also discovered.

Born in Hertfordshire, Mr Reade spent most of his life in Suffolk and also lived in Belgium for a short period. Although he had no registered address, he had been living with a friend in Ipswich at the time of his death.

His mother, Paula Bethell, told the inquest she had seen him the day before he died, describing how he had been in good spirits. However, it was the last time she would see her son alive.

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