A 63-YEAR-OLD dad died after taking an unknown quantity of painkillers, an inquest heard.

Christopher Vincent Westell, of May Terrace, Billington, died at home on April 16 this year.

An inquest at Blackburn Town Hall heard how Mr Westell had been suffering from back problems for 15 years but didn’t take any regular medication to help ease his pain despite being prescribed tramadol and codeine between July and September 2017.

Mr Westell did not respond well to the tramadol and stopped taking it.

He was also believed to have been drinking over the years as a way of coping with his pain.

Giving evidence, Dr Deepa Jacob, consultant pathologist at the Royal Blackburn Hospital, said: “Mr Westell was found to have cirrhosis of the liver which contributed to his death, and a toxicology report revealed a high level of codeine in his blood.

“If he had been taking codeine for a long time he would have built up a tolerance to this.”

Dr Jacob added that the fact he wasn’t prescribed any medication between August 2017 and April this year suggests his tolerance levels to the codeine could have dropped.

His wife, Ann Marie Westell, gave evidence and said that in the weeks leading up to his death her husband had been managing without pain relief, but three days before he died he had complained of worsening pain.

She said she gave him some over-the-counter medication but couldn’t be sure if he later took more than the prescribed dose.

The day before he died his pain had escalated and this continued into the following day, but he refused to go to hospital. He was later found dead by his wife.

Mrs Westell said: “It was a difficult time when he had his back pain and I knew he was drinking too much as the doctor had told him this. He drank quite a lot which alleviated the pain quite a bit.”

Coroner Richard Taylor recorded a verdict of misadventure, and said Mr Westell died having ingested an unknown quantity of codeine but that his cirrhosis was a contributing factor in his death.