DETECTIVES launched a serious crime investigation after a man who told his fiancée that he was being followed was found in a St Ives street with a suspected broken neck and later died in hospital. But the manhunt was called off when a post mortem examinat
DETECTIVES launched a serious crime investigation after a man who told his fiancée that he was being followed was found in a St Ives street with a suspected broken neck and later died in hospital.
But the manhunt was called off when a post mortem examination disclosed that he had died from a cocaine overdose and that his physical injuries would have been caused by a seizure, an inquest in Huntingdon heard.
Welder Ian John Duncan, 44, of Dart Close, St Ives, had been expected to meet friends for a takeaway dinner on a Sunday in March. As he was on his way, he called his fiancée, Lynne Thompson, on his mobile phone, she told the coroner.
"He started to speak quietly, almost whispering. He said that someone was following him. He thought there was more than one person. He seemed terrified."
Soon afterwards he rang back and was crying. "He thought there were loads of them following him."
Ms Thompson rang the friends he was due to meet, who tried but failed to reach him on his mobile and set off to look for him.
His friend Stuart Turner said they had arrived in Oxford Road to find Mr Duncan lying half on the pavement and half on the road. There was no obvious sign of injury, but the police had arrived and cordoned off the road.
Det Sgt Russ Toovey, of the police's major investigation team, told the coroner, Dr Colin Lattimore, that residents had reported hearing a fight outside their homes before Mr Duncan was found and that the reported injuries appeared consistent with an assault.
But the fight had turned out to be the dying man's groans and the injuries had proved to be consistent with a seizure, so the investigation was abandoned. "There was no evidence that any third party was involved."
Home Office forensic pathologist Dr Nat Cary said the grazes to face, hands and knees were explained by Mr Duncan having fallen face downwards and having had a seizure while on the ground.
Toxicology tests had disclosed a high level of cocaine, and previous damage to heart muscle suggested long-term use of the drug. It was not the first example he had seen of a heavy cocaine user becoming over-active, and bizarre behaviour, including the belief that he was being followed and the possibility that he might have locked up his car and thrown away the keys (which were never found).
In a narrative verdict, Dr Lattimore found that Mr Duncan had died as the result of an overdose of a controlled drug.
"I hope you can begin to pick up your life again," he told relatives.