A Chester man with a history of drug and alcohol abuse had finally begun to turn his life around when he died falling from a ladder, an inquest heard.
Gethin William Kirwan,of Halkyn Road, Hoole, was helping his friend Kevin Price, who runs NW Cladding in Deeside, on a job in Llanrhos Road, Penrhyn Bay on April 4 last year when the accident happened.
Mr Kirwan, 35, who was not formally employed with the company and had been told by Mr Price not to climb the ladder or start any work until he returned from getting them breakfast, was seen falling around 40ft from the top of the ladder just before 11am.
He was rushed to Glan Clwyd Hospital but pronounced dead at 3pm that afternoon.
The former John Summers High student was just weeks away from his 36th birthday on April 28 and, according to his mother Pam Jenkins, was turning his life around.
“It took him 35 years but he had grown up,” she said. “The last 12 months of his life he was so happy. He looked good, he was in good health, he was trying very hard.”
Mr Kirwan’s problems began when he left his job at Deeside Leisure Centre, aged 19, and moved in with his brother in Hoylake.
He became addicted to drugs and for more than a decade battled heroin addiction and was in and out of prison.
“It was a bad time for him and the family,” said Ms Jenkins. “But in 2011 he came out of prison and said he really wanted to change.
“Kevin was his best friend, he gave him jobs to do and a reason to get out of bed in the morning. He loved working with Kevin, he was proud of the work he did and was good at it.
“I had planned a surprise birthday meal for him, I could trust him again. I was proud of how he had turned his life around.”
Window cleaner Chris Duller saw Mr Kirwan fall.
“He fell like he blanked, like he fainted, he didn’t try to grab anything,” he said.
Dr Mark Atkinson, the pathologist who carried out the post mortem examination, described extensive injuries to Mr Kirwan’s head and a toxicology report which showed low levels of alcohol in his blood, but high levels of methadone, which Mr Kirwan has been prescribed to fight his heroin addiction, but which was described by Dr Atkinson as being in the ‘potentially lethal range’.
He described methadone as a ‘major tranquilizer’ which would have had the potential to impair Mr Kirwan’s balance and judgment as well as making him sleepy.
The jury of six men and three women at Ruthin Coroner’s Court returned a verdict of accidental death.