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Dad tells of anger and pain at heroin tragedies.

Byline: By Peter Taylor

Grieving father speaks out in despair at drugs that claimed the lives of 5 pals

Within two years heroin claimed the lives of five young pals from the same town.

Today a heartbroken dad of one of the victims spoke of his despair at the drugs culture that has destroyed the lives of dozens of families in Blyth.

Philip Thompson, 56, was too upset to attend an inquest held into the death of his 22-year-old son Ryan last year.

But he opened his heart afterwards to tell about his regrets and his anger over the tragedy.

The circle of five pals all attended the former Tynedale High School in Blyth. Ryan's best pal Mark Pegg, also 22, died of a methadone and heroin overdose.

An inquest on Barry Weatherston, 23, two days before the inquest on Ryan heard he died from a massive overdose on returning for the day to Blyth after leaving the area to try and beat his addiction.

Stephen Maddison, another of Ryan's pals, died 18 months ago after injecting himself with heroin. But a post mortem later revealed that there was only a low level of the drug in his body. Medical experts later told north Northumberland coroner Ian McCreath that although 21-year-old Mr Maddison had not taken an overdose of the drug, it may still have killed him by inducing an abnormal heart rhythm making his heart stop.

Unemployed Mr Maddison, of Lilac Avenue, Blyth, had just been released after serving a five-month jail sentence and was trying to steer clear of drugs.

Another of Ryan Thompson's friends from the town died two years ago from drugs.

Today Mr Thompson said: "I didn't go to the inquest because I am still heartbroken. It was a tragedy waiting to happen.

"Ryan was a drinker. He got a craving for the heroin when he got himself full of drink. The combination of drink and drugs is lethal.

"He had already overdosed six times and been taken to Wansbeck General Hospital on three occasions in the space of the eight months he had been taking heroin.

"There are four of them that I know of at that age that have gone besides my son. The older ones seem to be able to just take it in a controlled way and continue regardless."

Scaffolder Mr Thompson hit out at the drugs culture in Blyth. "I believe the heroin problem is bigger than it has ever been. I believe it's out of control," he said.

And he spoke of the decision he made to return to work, after bringing up three children - Ryan, Nathan and Nicola, who are now 24 and 25 - as a single parent.

He said: "I believe the problems started when I went back to work full-time. As they were ready for leaving school, I went back to work. They had the house to themselves during the day."

An inquest held at Wansbeck General Hospital recorded an open verdict on Ryan Thompson after hearing medical evidence that death was due to a cocktail of heroin, Diazepam and alcohol.

He collapsed at a boarding house in the town's Bondicar Terrace on April 15 last year. Police arrested two lodgers on suspicion of supplying heroin and inquired in to allegations that another person had administered a heroin injection to Ryan. No charges were brought because of lack of evidence.
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Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Mar 15, 2004
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