A 30-year-old man who worked for Port St Mary Commissioners collapsed and died after drinking cleaning fluid but the precise reason remains unclear, an inquest has ruled.
James Lewis Charles Wade of Bay View Road, Port St Mary, died on February 14 or 15 after drinking a product used to clean alloy car wheels.
The substance, called ghb (gammahydroxybutrate) and also known as liquid ecstasy, was at one time marketed as a legal high but was banned in 2009. Pathologist Dr Christopher Clague told the court the fluid was used as a solvent for paint stripping and was known to be particularly dangerous if taken with alcohol. He said toxicology reports revealed a potentially lethal concentration of the substance in Mr Wade’s body.
James Wade’s father, Brian Wade told the court his son had suffered depression in the past but was happy and optimistic at that time.
He said his son had seemed ‘a bit down’ on February 14 and that evening they received a telephone call from James’s wife, Zara Wade, saying James had taken something and had been sick.
‘I could hear Jamie vomiting in the background and I told her to telephone an ambulance, or take him to hospital and we would meet them there,’ he said.
But Mr Wade said Zara phoned again and said she would not call an ambulance because James had objected. He said they set off from their home in Foxdale to go to Port St Mary and when they reached Colby the telephone rang again.
‘Zara rang the mobile and just said Jamie’s dead. We arrived at the same time as the ambulance and saw Jamie lying on the kitchen floor and it was obvious that he was dead.’
Evidence from Zara Wade said how she had gone into the kitchen and found her husband vomiting. She said she had called Mr Wade then called an ambulance.
Former partner Emily Watterson said James had taken recreational drugs in the past and this had been a source of disagreement between them, but she said he was not indiscriminate and researched anything he took carefully first.
Giving a narrative verdict, coroner John Needham noted significant inconsistencies in Zara Wade’s evidence and the delay in calling an ambulance: ‘Whether that would have saved Jamie’s life is not known. Dr Clague’s evidence suggests the prognosis would still not have been good,’ he said. He added there had been some Valentine’s day friction saying: ‘I can’t rule out that he acted as a cry for help after an argument, but this remains to a certain degree open.’