Theatre lover’s death sparks coroner alert

Deputy coroner Christopher Beverley
Deputy coroner Christopher Beverley
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The tragic suicide of a much-loved man should act as a lesson to others dealing with drug addiction, a coroner has said.

Heroin and crack-cocaine addict Liam Parks was found hanged in his flat on Wilton Parade, Blackpool, on May 1 this year. He was 32.

He also took prescribed medication for mental health problems and used illegal drugs, Blackpool Coroner’s Court heard.

His devastated mother, Jean Strawford, sitting with stepfather Malcolm, and brother Gavin, told the court how the last time she spoke to her son he had said how he wanted to get clean.

A family statement said: “He was loving and caring and a happy, smiley child.”

Mr Parks grew up in Bradford and was described as having a great love of theatre.

His time working backstage at a theatre as a teenager was cut short when he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

He moved to Blackpool, aged 19 and was in remission, but was further blighted by illness and was later “knocked for six” by the death of his father.

The court heard that this was when mental health problems gripped him and his dependence on drugs deepened.

In the year before his death, despite regular interventions from professionals and a period in a mental health unit, Mr Parks attempted to take his own life five times.

Deputy Coroner Christopher Beverley recorded a verdict of suicide and that Mr Parks took his own life.

Mr Beverley said: “Tragically, it is clear to me he (Mr Parks) could go very quickly from being very happy and content to a phase where it was likely he would take some dramatic action.

“It’s quite clear that, for whatever reason, that it was his intention to hang himself.”

Mr Beverley acknowledged the efforts of professionals in offering Mr Parks support and medical assistance and said he now hoped his story might help others.

He added: “The tragedy of the drug culture we have locally, no matter how much involvement there is from professionals, once people go along this path, so often it ends in some kind of tragedy like this.

“I do hope if there is any benefit to come out of this, that somebody, somewhere will realise the tragedy that has happened to Liam.

“Drugs are something that will be a scourge in Blackpool for as many years as we can all envisage.”

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