Man found dead in bail hostel

PUBLISHED: 15:38 27 February 2002 | UPDATED: 11:26 03 March 2010

SEXUALLY abused as a child, and with his dad and uncle both dead from overdosing on drugs, Stephen Best had also lost the grandparents he had lived with, when he was just 16.

SEXUALLY abused as a child, and with his dad and uncle both dead from overdosing on drugs, Stephen Best had also lost the grandparents he had lived with, when he was just 16.

Born in Lancashire in 1972, he died in an Ipswich bail hostel before reaching his 30th birthday with a history of heroin addiction.

His mum Catherine Dewhurst told an inquest: "He was lovely. He was always smiling, he loved his family. He was very caring. He just got in with the wrong crowd.

"He adored his nanny and grandad, who had spoiled him rotten. He lived with them when I got a job in Aberdeen.

"I knew he'd been tampering with cannabis and sniffing glue."

She said after his 21st birthday he moved to Lowestoft and met his real dad - a heroin addict, who he later found dead from an overdose.

His dad's brother in Grimsby also died from an overdose, but Mrs Dewhurst said the death of his grandparents affected him most.

She added: "I didn't know, but when Stephen was ten years old he was sexually abused by two men and we never found out until he went into a treatment centre to get off heroin and had to start telling his life story it all came out.

Nobody disbelieved him because of the way he described the things that happened.

"He was a good lad. He loved his mum and I loved him."

Hostel warden Tony Amos told the court Stephen had only been living there for a week, when he

found him slumped in his room during a nightly check on residents at 11pm on December 13.

He said: "he was half sitting, half lying on the bed."

He said Stephen was unconscious and not breathing, but coughed, so he tried to resuscitate him and called for an ambulance.

But he added: "The police surgeon said he could have been dead for four hours," and said: "Medical experts told me afterwards the cough could just have been air being expelled - what's known as a 'death rattle'."

Earlier in the day Stephen, who was also known as Stephen Drever, had walked to a pharmacy with two other hostel residents Mandy Trunks and David Bunn, but Mr Bunn said he did not see him take any drugs.

He told police they returned to the hostel and Stephen reappeared after 15 minutes, unsteady on his feet and slurring his words. Mr Bunn helped him to his room, and said Stephen said: "I just want to sleep it off."

Toxicology reports showed he had morphine and other drugs in his system, but not at lethal quantities, and a post mortem did not reveal any natural cause of death.

Detective Sergeant Simon Curtis investigated the case, but said there was no clear evidence of any drugs or alcohol being supplied to Stephen. His prescription drugs including painkillers and antidepressants were held by hostel staff.

Dr Peter Dean said it was unclear whether his body reacted to the drugs, or had suffered a disturbance of the heart rhythm which killed him. He has complained of chest pain days before.

He added: "He may even have bought some illicit morphine -we do not know.

"This was a young man, clearly with a history of drug use, with a pleasant personality - a very loving and caring person.

"There is absolutely no suggestion of a suicidal attempt."

Mrs Dewhurst said: "he would have made sure my life was made hell first."

Dr Dean said: "We are left with an unanswerable question as to how death occurred," and recorded an open verdict.

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