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Published on Mon Oct 11 16:29:52 BST 2010
FRIENDS and relatives of a Nelson man who died from a combination of morphine and alcohol poisoning said they were mystified how the drug got into his system.
Mr Colin Sahlke (48), of Carr Road, was found dead in his flat by his landlord on April 19th.
Ex-paratrooper Mr Sahlke and another ex-soldier, Stephen Taylor, flew out to Portugal three years ago to help in the search for missing British four-year-old Madeleine McCann.
An inquest at the Coroner’s Court in Burnley heard from his partner of three years, Christina Ellis, who said it was clear Mr Sahlke had been drinking too much.
She said: “He tried to keep it hidden but it put a huge strain on our relationship. He’d spent time in hospital and found life very difficult.
“I ended the relationship three weeks before he died. The last time I saw him was the day before, when he was drinking in the Station Hotel. He would drink all day but only took prescribed drugs.”
A post-mortem examination carried out by pathologist Dr Zuhair Twaij found a very high level of alcohol in Mr Sahlke’s system plus morphine in his blood. He gave the cause of death as morphine toxicity exacerbated by alcohol consumption.
Miss Ellis added: “Colin never took heroin or morphine so I don’t know how that got into his system. He’d made threats to harm himself in the past and once threatened to throw himself off the multi-storey car park in Nelson.”
Recording an open verdict, East Lancashire Coroner Mr Richard Taylor said: “Somehow this drug got into his system. The normal way would be by injection but there was no evidence of a needle site.
“However, we can’t avoid the fact it was in his system. I have no evidence, though, that his death was related to an intention to take his own life.
“I’ve no doubt he had a huge tolerance to alcohol and his drinking was not accidental. The presence of morphine is unexplained and we will probably never have an explanation. When people are depressed they do things they don’t normally do.”