Death of Leeds rough sleeper Nigel Whalley was drug and alcohol related - inquest

Nigel Whalley was described as a "gentle giant" by his family.Nigel Whalley was described as a "gentle giant" by his family.
Nigel Whalley was described as a "gentle giant" by his family.
A father who was sleeping rough in Leeds city centre was 'hit hard' after losing his brother nearly 30 years ago, an inquest has heard.

Nigel Whalley was found dead by police at his home address in Beeston on December 19 last year.

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An inquest at Wakefield Coroner’s Court yesterday concluded that the 50-year-old’s death was drug and alcohol related.

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Assistant coroner John Hobson read a statement from Mr Whalley’s sister Kathleen Stead in which she said he was “hit hard” by the death of his brother in 1989.

She said Mr Whalley, who grew up in Seacroft, the youngest of 10 children, became reliant on “hard drugs” including heroin.

She said: “He was a very challenging individual but always very loved and very loving.”

Mr Whalley, who had a 29-year-old son, had spent many years sleeping on the street, mainly around the Merrion Centre.

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His sister said he “loved” his street life and “hardly used” a flat he had been allocated in Trentham Street shortly before his death.

The court heard an outreach team contacted police on December 19 as Mr Whalley, who had a long history of drug misuse, had not collected his methadone medication for six days.

Officers went to his flat and forced entry after receiving no response to their knocks and shouts. They found Mr Whalley faced down on the living room sofa. Paramedics were called and his death was confirmed at 6.18pm.

The medical cause of death was recorded as methadone, fentanyl, alcohol and heroin toxicity and contributory Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). The court heard none of the “illicit substances” were at a fatal level individually.

Mr Whalley’s niece, Jessie Wood, has previously described him as a “gentle giant”. He was known for helping mothers struggling on the steps outside the Merrion Centre with their pushchairs.