A HOMELESS man died in an Earley underpass after consuming a cocktail of prescription drugs and alcohol, an inquest has heard.

Luther O'Keefe, 34, of no fixed address, died on August 24, 2017 in the tunnel running underneath the A3290, between Henley Wood Road and Dartington Avenue, before he was found by a cyclist.

The inquest, held at Reading Town Hall on Thursday, March 8, heard how Mr O'Keefe had a history of alcohol and drug abuse, and was known to the police and social services.

Coroner Ian Wade QC read out a statement by witness Eriks Lelenka, who discovered Mr O'Keefe's body at around 6.45am on the morning of August 24. he said he was cycling to the train station when he saw something at the end of the tunnel. He cycled closer and noticed it was a person who was slumped to one side. He stopped to see if the man was ok, but said in his statement that he 'looked dead'. He called the emergency services, and paramedics declared Mr O'Keefe dead at 7.03am.

A post-mortem and toxicology report found Mr O'Keefe had a combination of alcohol, methadone, diazepam and pregablin, a medication used to treat anxiety and epilepsy, in his system. The levels of each substance were relatively low, but the combination made the cocktail lethal.

Summing up, Mr Wade said: "The combination of these substances working together had the effect of suppressing Luther's breathing, he became overwhelmed and would have fallen out of consciousness, into a coma, and passing away.

"I am satisfied that he deliberately took all of the substances, but because he was addicted, he took more than he should have. I am not satisfied that he intended to take or risk his own life so I won't record suicide or misadventure.

"What is clear to me is that this is an alcohol and drug related death.
"I get the impression that the community and his family extended as much help as they possibly could, sometimes he engaged, sometime he did not. That was his choice."

The coroner recorded a verdict of an alcohol and drug related death.