A HOMELESS man from Newquay died of a drugs overdose just a week after he had his front teeth knocked out by a trio of thugs, an inquest has heard.
Steven Howard, 40, was found dead by a pal in a supported accommodation flat on Island Crescent on May 17. A post-mortem examination revealed he had a lethal amount of methadone in his system.
Truro Coroner's Court heard on Wednesday that just seven days before his death, Mr Howard had been savagely beaten up by three men at a flat in Camborne.
However, a forensic pathologist's report revealed that injuries sustained in the attack had not contributed to his demise. There was also no indication that Mr Howard had intended to take his own life.
The court heard Mr Howard had been drinking alcohol and taking Class A drugs for more than 15 years, often downing up to 15 cans of strong lager a day.
It emerged that he had suffered with depression and had been imprisoned eight times in the past 20 years for offences including burglary, shoplifting and theft.
But Mr Howard's sisters and girlfriend painted a different picture of him, during the inquest, and speaking to the Cornish Guardian afterwards.
Noreen McAuliff, his girlfriend, described him as a "loveable rogue", adding: "He was great with my three kids, and they loved him to bits. We'll miss him very much."
His sisters, Tracey Hoskin and Clare Chanter, agreed that he had been a "great brother" when he was clean.
Mrs Chanter said: "I remember him when he was younger, and this is how I'll always remember him. He took the wrong road at some point and we don't know why. What happened to him was inevitable, sadly."
Marc Farrant, a friend of Mr Howard who rescued him from the attack in Camborne, said he was "gutted" to hear about his death: "I liked Steven and could have seen us becoming better friends."
The inquest heard that three days after the assault, Mr Howard had collapsed by a road near Truro and, following a check-up, was given a lift to Newquay by a police officer.
He then spent time with friend, John Toomey, at the Crescent Residential Care Home. On the morning of May 17 he had visited Mr Toomey after a night out and was found dead that evening.
Tracey Guirran, a mental health support worker at Newquay Mind, said: "He was a nice man who had a problem with drinking. He was always very respectful to me and was very much in love with his girlfriend."
Coroner Emma Carlyon recorded a verdict of accidental death.