A TALENTED chef with a bright future ahead of him died of an accidental overdose five months after an attempt to take his own life, an inquest heard.

Ashley McNulty, who had jumped from a bridge in his home town in March, was found unresponsive in the garden of his Oswaldtwistle home by a neighbour at around 1pm on August 12, the hearing in Blackburn was told.

The 23-year-old had been out drinking with friends on the night of August 11, but had returned to his house on Stanley Street at around midnight.

Coroner Richard Taylor told the inquest that Mr McNulty’s next-door neighbour saw him arrive home, severely intoxicated.

Mr Taylor said: “Ashley told his neighbour he had taken an overdose on August 10, and appeared to be extremely drunk.

“She attempted to get Ashley back into his house, but he refused and remained in the garden.”

The neighbour said Mr McNulty spoke to her about his concern for his cat, who had gone missing that morning.

A statement from police sergeant Daniel Gunn said: “He’d come home and was in the garden looking for his cat and this was the last interaction he had with her.

“She said he stumbled and fell over. She tried to spray him with water to rouse him and get him back into the house, and asked him if he’d taken anything but he couldn’t speak.

“When she couldn’t move him she returned to her own house, but said she heard him moving around at about 4am.

“When she went back out to the garden the following afternoon to hang some washing, she looked over into Ashley’s garden and saw him on the floor.”

His mother, Alison Leeming, told the inquest her son experienced some mental health issues in January 2019, which he put down to stress due to his demanding role as head chef at the Stanhill pub in Oswaldtwistle.

He began taking medication and started counselling, and also stepped down from his role, taking up a post as sous chef to try to relieve the pressure.

However, in March, Mr McNulty jumped from a bridge after he had been out drinking with friends.

Ms Leeming said: “He told me that as soon as he jumped he regretted it and tried to grab hold of something.”

Mr McNulty was prescribed morphine due to severely damaging his pelvis in the fall, but was trying to wean himself off it.

His mother said he would often miss a dose when he knew he was going out drinking with his friends as he was aware he shouldn’t be mixing the substances.

His family, who were present at the inquest, said he had just got a new girlfriend and had so much to look forward to, including plans to buy his own house.

Ms Leeming said: “He would never have taken his own life or done this deliberately.”

Tests showed morphine in Mr McNulty’s system and alcohol the equivalent to three times that of the drink-drive limit.

Mr Taylor returned a conclusion of misadventure and said Mr McNulty died after combining too much prescribed morphine with a high level of alcohol.

Close friend Colin Manford, brother of comedian Jason Manford, told the Lancashire Telegraph that Mr McNulty was well liked. Mr Manford said: “He’s missed very much.”