Busker’s ‘secret’ ended in tragedy

Breaking news...
Breaking news...

A street busker who toured Europe with his guitar and fathered a daughter in Spain died trying to kick his serious drug habit which he hid from his family.

Richard Stuart, 47, of Chapmangate, Pocklington, had raised the flag at bars in Beverley’s Saturday Market after busking in the street before taking a lethal cocktail of amphetamine and heroin at a pal’s flat in Beckside, Beverley.

Fellow busker Neil Cottee said Stuart had told him he had injected amphetamine at 3am and heroin at 12noon on 7 September 2014, but had gone back to sleep and he was not worried until he seemed difficult to wake at 9.30pm.

Mr Cottee gave Mr Stuart mouth-to-mouth resuscitation after realising he was not breathing. He called 999 before paramedics arrived and tried desperately to save his life, a Hull inquest heard.

Stuart died as a result of four illegal drugs combining to stop his heart and lungs functioning.

His mother, Joan Ann Prudence, of Bridlington, told the inquest in a written statement of the highs and lows of her son’s life. The court heard he was born in Nottingham but attended Headlands School in Bridlington after his mother moved and remarried. He had two elder brothers Simon and Neil and a younger half-sister Sarah.

“He did all the things a normal child did and was happy,” said Mrs Prudence. “While far from being unintelligent, he did not put a great deal of effort into his schooling. He left school at 16 and went into brief employment with his step father.” She said he never took another job, but in his early 20’s decided to use his musical talent touring Europe with his guitar as a busker. She said at the time she knew he had become quite a heavy drinker but nothing else. She said only later in life did she ask him about it and he said he had begun drinking when he was 13-years-old. She said around 1996 he went to Spain, where he met Miriam Gotari. They had a child Josephine Sophia Stuart-Gotari but the relationship did not run smoothly. He returned home to Bridlington and although he was drinking did not appear unwell. For a short time Miriam Gotari and her daughter came to live in Bridlington. “Although he did not live with them, he was devastated when they left,” said Mrs Prudence. She said she had taken her son to Scarborough Hospital for treatment to a swollen hand. A nurse during a consultation, had asked him about any drugs he may have taken and he began to list them. “The nurse saw how shocked I was by this. It was obvious I knew nothing and she asked me to leave while he continued.” She said after this she asked her son about his drug use. She said: “Over the years, Richard said he wanted to stop taking drugs.”

She said in September 2012 Richard Stuart had got a flat in Pocklington. “He was self sufficient although I did occasionally help him with his finances.” She said the last time she saw her son was on 6 September - the day before he died. “He came for a meal. He was his normal self. I gave him his bus fares back to Beverley. He said he would see me on Sunday. He never came. I did not worry, because that was just Richard.”

She said after his death she went to his flat to clean up and found needles. She added: “None of his family or siblings knew he took drugs.”

Neil Cottee, of Beverely, said in his statement: “We met through a shared love of busking. It is fair to say he would use any drug he had access to, to get high. He was a weekend drug user because of the cost. He was on good form that weekend as he always was. We did a little busking together.”

“I knew he wanted to be free of drugs, but never quite made it. To me, his death was a tragedy.”

Janet Bayliss, an NHS investigator, told the inquest although Mr Stuart had sort help and was on an alcohol treatment programme he had attended six out of 12 appointments and his long term plan for rehabilitation had been hampered.

East Yorkshire Coroner Paul Marks said he was satisfied there were no suspicious circumstances or third parties involved in Mr Stuart’s death. He recorded a cause of death as drugs and alcohol.