Anthrax victim named

Anne Hind - Blackpool and Fylde Coroner.
Anne Hind - Blackpool and Fylde Coroner.
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THE identity of the man at the centre of a Blackpool anthrax probe has been revealed.

Declan Wallace, 48, died after injecting himself with contaminated heroin.

His legs began to swell and he was taken to Victoria Hospital, but he suffered a respiratory arrest and doctors could not save his life.

Today residents close to his home on South View, Kirkham, spoke of their shock at the incident on their doorstep.

One, who did not wish to be named, said: “Whichever way you look at it, this is a dreadful tragedy.

“I thought he seemed a nice person and a good family man because I used to see him with his children.”

Another neighbour added: “It is just so sad someone has lost their life, and a waste because he was young.

“It is quite shocking it happened in such a way – you just don’t expect that, and especially not on this street because it is a decent area.”

An inquest into Mr Wallace’s death has been opened and adjourned at Blackpool Coroners Office.

The court heard how the victim was taken ill at home on August 12 and an ambulance was called.

Blackpool coroner Anne Hind said: “Mr Wallace was complaining of swollen legs.

“He was taken to Accident and Emergency.

“He had abscesses on his groin and went into respiratory arrest.

“He was taken to intensive care but died.

“Because of a little background history, it was decided that blood cultures would be taken.

“The suspicion was anthrax in the blood.

“The cultures were sent to the Health Protection Agency and they confirmed he had anthrax.”

Mr Wallace’s death is the eighth reported across Europe since June due to anthrax-infected drugs.

Community leaders in Kirkham say the tragedy is shocking and sad.

But they stressed there is not a drug problem in the town.

Coun Elaine Silverwood said: “Obviously locals are talking about what has happened and it is very unfortunate and dreadfully sad.

“I have spoken to the police and they have explained what is going on.

“What I would like to stress is that Kirkham isn’t the rough, drug-infested area some might try to make out in the aftermath of this.

“That is a grossly distorted view because it is not like that at all.

“What happened was very unfortunate and tragic, but it was an isolated incident.”

Liz Oades, a fellow councillor in Kirkham, added: “No one should make out our town has a problem.

“We are no different to any other small town in the country.

“There are small pockets of problem areas but the majority of people are clean living.”

Lancashire Police said it is determined to tackle drug issues in the county.

A spokesman said: “We are committed to taking Class A drugs off our streets and have operations which target those people who supply and deal drugs in Lancashire.”