The heartbroken fiancée of an amputee, who took an accidental overdose of a drug he purchased on the internet to provide pain relief following an accident at work, says more must be done to raise awareness of the dangers of the ‘easily accessible drugs’.
Father-of-one Daniel Batchelor, from Weymouth, was found unconscious in his bed aged just 36 by his long-term partner of five years Shari Newman on January 22 this year, after choking on his own vomit which caused his brain to be starved of oxygen.
She told a coroner during the inquest into his death today that he had been taking a drug that he bought over the internet to provide pain relief since a below knee amputation of his right leg after a ladder collapsed from under him when he was at work in 2011.
He was allergic to opiates so struggled to manage his pain and struggled to manage his medication due to forgetfulness caused by the accident – meaning he often doubled up on doses as he couldn’t remember taking it previously.
Coroner Sheriff Payne recorded a narrative verdict following the hearing at Dorchester Coroner’s Court and said that there was no evidence to suggest Daniel took drugs with an intention to end his life and it was another episode of him trying up get pain relief but misjudged the amount he was taking.
He said: “Daniel died as a consequence of excess drugs but taken with probable intent to relieve him from pain.”
Daniel fell from a latter while working as a cable fitter.
It collapsed under him sending him plunging four metres through the air before hitting the concrete ground below.
After being rushed to Peterborough Hospital by air ambulance he underwent a total of seven operations to pin and fix his broken bones which included fractures to his arm, wrist, shin and ankle as well as a head injury.
His right forearm had been shattered and a plate was inserted from his wrist to his elbow.
Daniel developed compartment syndrome - when pressure within the muscles builds to dangerous levels causing paralysis and infection in his leg – and despite undergoing emergency surgery, he made the difficult decision in 2013 to undergo an amputation below the knee in the hope he could finally begin rebuilding his life with Shari and their two-year-old son, Alfie.
Daniel’s death came just days before a meeting was due with his former employers, led by Irwin Mitchell, where it was hoped a settlement would be agreed to allow for aids and equipment, future rehabilitation and care.
Shari, 35, added: “We are still desperately struggling to come to terms with Daniel’s death – it’s hard to believe he’s not coming back.
“He knew he was lucky to be alive after the fall and wanted so much to have a good quality of life and provide for me and Alfie. He chose to have the amputation as he knew it would mean less infection and hospital appointments.
“But he struggled to manage his pain due to his allergy and it was very hard watching him suffer. I’ll never forget finding him in bed and feeling so helpless as I knew he had gone.
“These drugs should not be available over the internet and more should be done to raise awareness of the huge risks that come with taking them. Anyone can buy them which is very worrying and it is clear more needs to be done to regulate this industry.
“I also hope that by speaking out it raises awareness of the importance of employers protecting their staff, particularly when they are expected to work at height. Companies have a duty to provide thorough training and appropriate work equipment, which was something Daniel was very passionate about following his injuries, and I’m determined to spread the message far and wide – it’s what he would have wanted.”
Natasha Fairs, a specialist workplace injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said: “This is a tragic case – Daniel was desperate to get his life back on track and plan his future with Shari and Alfie, who he was desperate to provide for after being in hospital for much of the first few months of Alfie’s early life for ongoing treatment.
“He went through a very painful and difficult time and showed remarkable strength when faced with the life changing decision as to whether to have an amputation.
“However, sadly the pain caused by his injuries proved too much to bear and the only relief Daniel could find was from drugs he bought over the internet as he was allergic to opiates.
“Now Shari must bring up Alfie alone and has many questions about whether more could have been done to help Daniel. We will continue to support her as she looks to come to terms with what happened.
“Despite legislation to protect employees who have to work at heights during the course of their job, accidents are still regularly occurring resulting in often devastating consequences.
"Greater training and maintenance of equipment will help to combat this and we urge companies to learn lessons from what happened to Daniel to prevent similar incidents from happening again.”