Dad found dead with pregnant woman and her partner after taking cocktail of drugs


A dad-of-two and a couple were found dead after taking a cocktail of drugs, an inquest heard.

Andrew Smith was discovered in the bedroom of a house in Oldham on December 28 last year.

Zoe Hamilton, 28, and James Acton, 41, were also found deceased nearby, Manchester Evening News reports.

The tragic deaths were reported to police after a worried family member arrived at the flat to check on them.

Mr Smith, 39, was struggling with drug addiction and homeless at the time of his passing.

His mental health had suffered after his best friend was murdered in front of him years previous.

An inquest at Rochdale Coroner’s Court was launched into his death on Tuesday (March 1).

It heard how Mr Smith had been allowed to stay with the couple at their home on Oldham Road over the Christmas period.

A next-door neighbor last saw Zoe Hamilton on Boxing Day when she visited her home for a drink.

Ms Hamilton revealed she was pregnant and spoke of her concerns about her boyfriend James Acton, who had been arrested a few days earlier.

She was worried her baby would be taken away from her.

During the visit, the neighbor observed Ms Hamilton drinking alcohol and taking tablets.



Zoe Hamilton and James Acton, pictured, were found dead – alongside Andrew Smith.

These were later discovered to be ‘pregabalin’ capsules, purchased earlier from Cheetham Hill.

The inquest heard how Ms Hamilton was known to take drugs including heroin and methadone but had recently “cut back”.

In a statement read out in court, the neighbor said she returned home at around 2.30am, leaving Zoe on her own.

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It was the last time she would ever see her alive.

Over the next few days, the neighbor noticed she couldn’t hear Ms Hamilton speaking or moving through the thin flat walls.

She told the court this sparked concern.

On December 28, Ms Hamilton’s sister knocked at the neighbour’s door.

She asked her if she had heard from her sister, who she had not spoken to since Christmas.

When the neighbor said she had not seen Ms Hamilton since she saw her on Boxing Day, they decided to break into her home.

Once the neighbor got inside the address, she was hit by a “horrible” smell.

She told the court the quiet home “didn’t feel right”.

She walked into an upstairs bedroom and discovered a horrific scene.

A man – who was later identified as Mr Smith – was lying inside a sleeping bag on the floor.

On a nearby bed, there was a blanket covering two people.

When the neighbor pulled the blanket away, underneath she discovered Ms Hamilton and Mr Acton.

She shouted at Ms Hamilton telling her everyone had been looking for her.

When she didn’t respond, the neighbor realized she was dead.

Emergency services were called and police and paramedics quickly descended on the scene.



Floral tributes left outside the house in Failsworth.
Floral tributes left outside the house in Failsworth.

A toxicology report found Mr Smith had a number of drugs in his system at the time of his death.

These included pregabalin, diazepam, heroin, methadone, cocaine, amphetamine and a low amount of alcohol.

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However, the analysis could not conclude if the drugs were taken at similar times or spread out over a number of days.

Speaking at the inquest, his brother, Robert Smith, described him as a “cheeky chappy” who was outgoing, popular and had many friends.

He was born and raised in Oldham and had previously worked as a plasterer.

His issues with addiction were sparked by a traumatic incident in his younger years.

He had previously been involved in an attack which saw his best friend murdered.

Though he was never formally diagnosed with PTSD, his family say the tragedy had a significant effect on him.

Mr Smith often blamed himself for what happened and would wake up having night terrors.

His family say this period was the “real starting point” for his spiraling mental health.

Mr Smith began using drugs and eventually found himself homeless on the streets of Manchester.

His family last saw him on December 23 when he visited his mother’s home.

His brother Robert was at work when he heard three bodies had been discovered in Oldham.

Colleagues were discussing the incident and it had been broadcast on local radio.



One tribute read:
One tribute read: “Always in our thoughts Andy.”

But it would take seven hours for the family to be told one of the bodies found was Mr Smith.

Giving evidence at the inquest, GMP detective inspector Rachel Smith said a number of tests were carried out the scene.

These included carbon monoxide poisoning and an investigation into a possible suicide pact.

Both of these theories were ruled out.

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However, police believe the diazepam tablets found at the scene may have been illicit.

Mr Smith’s cause of death was found to be polydrug toxicity (combined drug toxicity) and pulmonary tuberculosis.

Before concluding the inquest, coroner Lisa Judge said: “Andrew Smith was loved so very much by all his family.

“What is clear from the evidence I’ve heard is that there was one very significant event.

“The tragic murder of his greatest friend was witnessed by him and his brother.

“The impact of that terrible event caused Andrew to become entrenched in long-term drug abuse.

“His family, longing him to beat his habit, not only provided him with physical and financial assistance but emotional support.

“The continuing of his drug use caused his lifestyle to become chaotic.”

Speaking previously, Mr Smith’s partner, Michelle Fleming, described him as the ‘best bloke you could ever meet’ who would ‘do anything for anyone’.

The 38-year-old, who is the mother of Andrew’s youngest daughter, said: “You couldn’t meet a nicer person.

“He was just the best block you could ever meet.

“He was very well-known in Failsworth and everyone that knew him wouldn’t have a bad word to say about him.

“He was always really polite and well mannered.

“He would also do anything for anyone. If you needed it he would give you his last penny.

“The last few months he had failed on hard times but he was getting his life back on track.

“We’re all just absolutely devastated.”




www.dailyrecord.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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