A MAN who had a mix of drink and drugs in his system including the synthetic cannabis spice died after falling from the arm of his friend’s sofa.

William McNeil was found to have traces of spice, heroin, alcohol and the painkiller pregabalin in his system when he had gone to visit a friend in Devonport Close, Blackburn, on June 3 of this year.

An inquest into the circumstances surrounding his death heard how the 56-year-old stopped breathing after he fell from the arm of his friend’s sofa, however a post mortem examination didn’t find any significant trauma to his head.

Instead, it was established that Mr McNeil died from choking prompted by his use of drink and drugs.

Sitting in Preston, coroner for East Lancashire Richard Taylor read out a statement written by Mr McNeil’s friend, Sean O’Brien.

He said: “I was having a few beers with a friend inside my flat when Billy knocked on, wanting to come inside. I let him in an could straight away tell that he had been drinking but he has always been a drinker. He had also brought some beers with him.”

Mr O’Brien said that they had been drinking in the living room when Mr McNeil fell, hitting his head on the skirting board.

He said: “He had stopped breathing. I tried resuscitation and contacted the ambulance service but it was clear he had passed away.

“I have always known Billy to be a drinker – I would say he was an alcoholic. I have also known him to take the drug spice and I think he may have had some drugs before he came to mine.”

The police were called and searched the flat but found nothing of any significance.

Recording his conclusion, Mr Taylor said: “This was someone who I have information about who did drink and use spice on regular occasions, so I will return a conclusion, on balance, of a drink and drug related death.”