"He said Mathew also became disillusioned with his work that he had previously loved, and had various run-ins with colleagues."
This, said Mr Swan, was totally out of character.
Plymouth man died after inhaling aerosol gases
Tuesday, September 08, 2009, 11:45
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A TWENTY-TWO-year-old apprentice electrician who died from inhaling a deodrant aerosol was suffering from undiagnosed medical condition which meant he was more at risk from the gases in the can, an inquest heard.
Mathew Burrows was found dead in bed by his father in Churchdown, Glos, just weeks after he had moved from Plymouth to start a new life with his dad.
After the tragedy, a pathologist found Mathew was suffering from Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, a condition which meant the butane and propane in the spray were more likely to kill him, the Cheltenham inquest was told.
Mathew, of Farrant Avenue, Churchdown, Glos, who had a history of anxiety and panic attacks, was found dead by his father on Sept 14 last year.
Recording a verdict of accidental death, Gloucestershire coroner Alan Crickmore said there were a limited number of explanations as to how Mathew came to inhale the gases.
He said he was sadly drawn to the conclusion that Mathew inhaled deliberately although he was 'absolutely satisfied' this was not intended to cause harm to himself.
The inquest heard that the day before he was found dead Mathew had enjoyed a family day out at the Newent Onion Fayre.
His father, Andrew Burrows, said he found his son's body under a duvet when he took him a cup of tea at around 9am.
Later, when a scene of crime officer and a policeman moved Mathew, an aerosol can of deodorant was found in the bed.
The inquest heard that Mathew had moved to Gloucester area from Plymouth to be closer to his girlfriend, Charlotte Morton.
Described by his mother, Tracy Brown, from Plymouth, as a 'happy lad, bright and popular,' the inquest heard that Mathew had seen his doctor in November 2007 after suffering palpitations.
Blood tests and an electro-cardiograph were carried out and found to be normal.
In January 2008, he saw Dr Francis Roberson, of the Ridgeway Medical Practice in Plympton, Plymouth, complaining of anxiety and panic attacks. He was prescribed anti-depressant drugs.
Later, Mathew saw Dr Stephen Robinson at the same medical practice, and was prescribed the anti-depressant fluoextine as the original prescription was causing unpleasant side-effects and had done little to ease his anxiety.
Over the next six months, Dr Robinson increased Mathew's dosage to 60mg and his condition was improving. Dr Robinson also referred Mathew to a confidential counselling service for young people, called The Zone.
After Mathew's move to the Gloucester area, he was seen by Dr Tim Macmorland of the Churchdown Surgery on September 4 and they discussed his anxiety and panic attacks.
Dr Macmorland arranged for Mathew to see the community psychiatric nurse with a view to future appointments with a psychiatrist and a psychologist and for a full range of blood tests to be carried out.
When asked by the coroner whether he had any concerns about Mathew's behaviour, Dr Macmorland said: 'No, I did not. He was looking forward to his new life in Gloucester. He looked relaxed and talked freely and openly.'
In a statement read to the inquest, Mrs Brown said her son had passed the first year of an electrical apprenticeship with distinction. When she saw him over the August Bank Holiday weekend, he 'seemed really settled.'
Witness Michael Swan said he had known Mathew since he was 15 and became very close describing him as his family's 'surrogate son.'
Mr Swan, of Tern Gardens, Plympton, Plymouth, said he noticed a change in Mathew's behaviour from early in 2008.
He became more distant, was fidgety and restless and would fall asleep suddenly. Mr Swan said he also witnessed Mathew suffer a panic attack in a bank queue.
He said Mathew also became disillusioned with his work that he had previously loved, and had various run-ins with colleagues.
This, said Mr Swan, was totally out of character.
His father, Andrew, told the inquest he left Mathew watching television at around 10.30pm on Saturday, September 13. They had enjoyed a family trip to the onion fayre and later they had shared a bottle of wine over dinner.
The next morning Mr Burrows found his son lying face down on his bed under the duvet.
He was cold and when he tried to rouse him, there was no movement or reaction. Mathew was later pronounced dead by paramedics.
"He was such a happy-go-lucky guy. He never demonstrated any behaviour that would lead him to anything like that," said Mr Burrows.
Consultant forensic toxicologist Dr Simon Elliott told the inquest that analysis of lung, brain and blood tissue revealed the presence of butane and propane gases used as propellants in aerosol cans and cigarette lighters.
Dr Elliott said investigation of blood and urine samples revealed levels of alcohol above the legal drink-drive limit but way below any fatal concentrations, and the presence of anti-depressant drug fluoextine that fell within the range that could lead to fatal consequences in some circumstances.
Dr John McCarthy, a consultant pathologist, said post mortem examinations revealed that Mr Burrows had been suffering with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, a condition that might simulate the symptoms of a depressive illness.
Earlier, the inquest had heard from thyroid disease expert Dr Edward Coombes who said such a condition could make a sufferer at risk of heart failure.
Dr McCarthy said after studying the toxicology reports it was more likely than not that the inhalation of butane and propane caused a sudden cardiac arrest.
The coroner, giving his verdict, said the primary care Mathew had received in Plymouth and Gloucester was of a high standard and there had been no diagnostic reason for his thyroid problem to have been spotted.
Mr Crickmore said the amount of relatively safe anti-depressants at the lower end of the toxicity scal
e were not the direct cause of death nor was the alcohol in his system.
He said that on the balance of probabilities, it was likely that Mathew inhaled sufficient amounts of butane and propane to get into his system and he accepted Dr Coombes point that his heart, sensitised by the thyroiditis, put him at more risk.