A MAN whose badly decomposed body was found in his house by his sister had not been seen for around three weeks, an inquest heard.

A hearing into the death of 42-year-old Paul Gardiner was told that his concerned sister, Lisa, had attended his address in Warwick Close, Accrington, on the morning of October 12, as she hadn’t spoken to him since September 22.

Letting herself in, she found her brother’s body, surrounded by needles, and called the emergency services.

Speaking at the inquest at Blackburn Enterprise centre, Coroner Richard Taylor said that Mr Gardiner had a long history of drug abuse, had been prescribed methadone to try to kick his drug habit and had been in rehab three times.

Giving evidence, PC Lindsay Bull, who attended Mr Gardiner’s address on the day his body was found, said: “There was concern that he had been dead for some time and there were needles surrounding him on the table and on the floor, and he had a lighter in his hand.”

A statement from the consultant pathologist reported that Mr Gardiner’s body was so severely decomposed that no scan or toxicology tests could be taken to ascertain the medical cause of death.

Mr Gardiner’s sister provided a statement to the inquest which said: “Paul started using drugs 11 years ago.

“He had been in rehab about three times after detoxing on several occasions, and had last been in rehab just six weeks before his death.

“When he came out he seemed confident and hopeful for the future.

“When he was using drugs he would stop looking after himself, and before his death I thought he might have relapsed.”

Ian McGlyn, who was Mr Gardiner’s care co-ordinator said he suffered from complex and challenging issues for which he had previously been admitted to hospital for.

Giving evidence, Mr McGlyn said: “Paul was being seen by the outreach team and engaging with Inspire, and had recently been admitted to hospital with mental health problems and substance misuse.

“I wasn’t happy with his living conditions and were sure they were affecting his mental health.

“He was on a high dosage of methadone as he was desperate to get off illicit drugs and move away from the area he was living in and plan for the future.

“You have to detox before you can go into rehab and Paul had just completed a successful one month detox programme and was supposed to go straight to rehab for three months and then into supported accommodation from there.

“But he was discharged after the detox ended and went back to his own house.

“He had really been looking forward to the future and had spoken about seeing his grandkids and his kids, as well as getting a dog.”

Mr Taylor told the inquest that given the fact there were no recorded physical health problems, on balance, the most likely cause of death was a drug overdose.

He said: “We don’t know what drugs were in his system and we don’t know how long his body had been there for.

“Maybe he had relapsed at some stage and started using drugs again, but because of the detox his tolerance had decreased.”