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By Rob Stewart
9:17 PM GMT 20 Dec 2010
The Wigan coroner, Jennifer Leeming, ruled she could not be certain he was intent on suicide as she recorded an open verdict at the inquest which heard that drugs and steroids may have impaired Newton’s judgment when he hanged himself.
In reaching her verdict, the coroner said: “I am aware Mr Newton had indicated that he had hoped to work with the Rugby Football League to warn other sportsmen of the dangers of drugs and in his death, it is the biggest warning to others.
“I cannot be sure beyond all reasonable doubt that at the time Mr Newton did that act that he had the capacity at the relevant time to form an appropriate intention to end his own life.
“In those circumstances the correct conclusion for me to record in law as to the underlying cause of death is an open conclusion. His loss is a tragedy to his family and to the community, particularly here in Wigan.”
The hearing was told that traces of anabolic steroids, cocaine and amphetamine were found in his system following his death on Sept 26.
He was discovered by police in the loft of his home in Orrell, Wigan, after his wife Stacey had told a friend she was concerned for his safety. He left notes around the house expressing a desire to end his life.
Newton, 31, had his contract terminated by Wakefield in February after being suspended for two years for a positive drug test for human growth hormone.
Toxicology reports showed he had taken the steroid nandrolone within the week of his death and traces of cocaine and amphetamine were in his urine, along with alcohol and antidepressants.
None of the banned drugs was a direct factor in the cause of death but all could have lowered a person’s mood, the inquest was told.
Human growth hormone cannot be tested for post-mortem samples.
Newton, the father of two young girls, played as a hooker for his hometown club Wigan, as well as Leeds and Bradford. Following his ban from the sport he became a pub licensee.
The coroner added: “We have a picture where steroid abuse may well have led on to behavioural changes. We can say that is virtually certain.
“Subsequently they have rendered Mr Newton, on the balance of probabilities, unable to form an appropriate judgment as to the nature and quality of his actions.”
His wife, and close family members, attended the hearing at Bolton Coroner’s Court but she was too upset to give evidence.