A Hull man was living in the grip of fear from drug dealers in the weeks living up to his death.
Nicholas Bouston had battled drug addiction most of his life after he started to take heroin when he was just 14 years old.
An inquest heard how Mr Bouston’s debts to drug dealers had seen his house used as a base to sell drugs, he had been beaten up, sent death threats and his mum’s home was even shot at.
While he desperately tried to seek help to quit the drugs in the past three years of his life, he could not stay clean.
Mr Bouston’s mum Marguerite Simpson found her son lying dead in his flat off Wellington Street at Hull Marina on January 27 this year. He had accidentally overdosed on a cocktail of mainly prescription drugs. He was 42 years old.
In a statement read out at the inquest, she said: “Nicholas was 13 years old when his dad died and his behaviour changed. He started taking drugs and I found out he was taking heroin at 14.
“He started stealing from me and even assaulted me on the odd occasion. Eventually, he had to leave and he spent time in hostels and on the streets.
“He went into rehab 19 times but nothing seemed to work.
“Nicholas moved to his flat in Wellington Street but he was forced to allow his flat to be used to sell drugs to pay off his debts.
“I discovered he had spent £1,000 on drugs and alcohol in the month before he died.”
Mrs Simpson previously told Hull Live how her son had been ambushed by a gang and badly beaten up near Hull city centre just a few months before his death.
She said he became a nervous wreck and was frightened to leave his home. He suffered from headaches, constantly had nightmares and struggled to breathe properly.
The 77-year-old mum-of-three, who lives in Burstwick, previously said: “They kicked him in the head, hit him with a metal dog chain and wouldn't stop. They broke his nose, cheekbones and hand. He had black eyes and they stole his money and tablets.
“After that, he couldn’t breathe properly because they knocked his nose out of place and he daren’t go out because he received death threats. He had never even set eyes on these people before he was attacked.
“I can’t say they killed him but they did a damn good job trying to.”
But the inquest heard that was not the end of it.
PC Bethany Sergeant carried out the investigation into Mr Bouston’s death.
She said: “After the assault, Mr Bouston lived in fear and would not go out alone.
“Someone offered him £1,000 to retract his statement to police and was also told that if anyone was convicted for the assault then he would be dead.”
Mr Bouston had been in contact with mental health and drug rehabilitation services from 2015 onwards.
A mental health nurse gave evidence at the inquest and revealed another disturbing revelation.
She said: “During one appointment with our mental health team, Mr Bouston explained how someone had fired a shot at the window of his mother’s house and believed they were drug dealers trying to find him.”
He had previously told mental health professionals he suffered from anxiety, depression, panic attacks, was hearing voices and felt detached from the world.
He had contact with the Let’s Talk service, ReNew and the Humber NHS Foundation Trust.
The trust carried out a Significant Event Analysis following Mr Bouston’s death to see if any lesson could be learnt.
Mrs Harrison said: “Systems and procedures were followed but some opportunities were missed. There were a cluster of appointments which could show there were changes in Mr Bouston’s life.
“At this point, there should have been a multi-disciplinary approach where different services got together to find out what could be done.
“There should have been a more holistic approach and not done in isolation and this is something we are looking at.”
Despite Mr Bouston’s mental health issues and his fear from drug dealers, there was no indication he took a deliberate overdose.
The inquest heard he was poor at taking his prescribed medicine and would often take a week’s worth in one go.
A postmortem found he died of drug poisoning due to a cocktail of largely prescription drugs which grew in toxicity when taken together.
Mrs Simpson previously told Hull Live Nicholas, who was the youngest child of three, first started taking drugs when he was 14. However, he trained to be an accountant and became the manager of a rehabilitation centre in Scotland.
She said Nicholas could often be seen wandering around Hull with his beloved Yorkshire Terrier which was passed on to him by his mother.
“The ladies in Boots loved him and they once bought him a box of chocolates,” Mrs Simpson said. “He was a lovely guy and I don’t know how life would have panned out for him had it not been for this.
“He was a gentle giant. He was 6ft 4ins and always went around taking his dog for a walk with its little coat on. You just saw this great big kid with this little dog and they were great together.
“Everybody liked him and when he was clean he was fantastic. It was a wasted life when he was on drugs but I try not to think about those times.”
Watch: What is an inquest?
Mrs Simpson, who still wears her son’s house key around her neck, said Nicholas had planned to become a pastor of a church in Ireland prior to his death.
Mrs Simpson says she misses her son every day, and although she blames his attackers for causing his downward spiral in the last few months of his life, she is glad he ultimately did not suffer when he died.
She said: “I keep having dreams thinking that he is alive and then I wake up and realise it was just a dream.
“It was awful to find him dead and it’s sad because when he was off heroin he was capable of so much.
"I’m just taking some comfort in the fact he had a peaceful death.”
Area coroner Rosemary Baxter concluded Mr Bouston’s death was ‘drug related’.
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