A FATHER was found dead in bed at home after taking an excess of prescribed methadone.

Franco Bellusci, 55, had been struggling with mental health issues and drug addiction for a number of years, but following an intervention by his daughter, Lauren Taylor, in December 2018, he spent the last 18 months of his life on the road to recovery and was engaging positively with mental health services and the drug support charity, Inspire, moving into his own home and improving his lifestyle.

An inquest in Clitheroe heard that Mr Bellusci, of Redvers Road, Darwen, was found dead in his flat on Wednesday, May 6, after police had been contacted by neighbours and friends, who were concerned they hadn’t seen him since the Saturday.

Five empty methadone bottles were found on top of the bin next to his bed, which his daughter said was unusual as he had never used more than one vial per day.

Senior Coroner Dr James Adeley told the court that a toxicology examination found methadone in Mr Bellusci’s system in a range usually encountered in fatalities, as well as a small amount of diazapam, both of which had been prescribed to Mr Bellusci by Inspire.

Dr Adeley said: “A medical cause of death was offered as methadone toxicity.”

Following his daughter’s intervention, Mr Bellusci had been placed on a methadone programme and was attending the pharmacy daily for his prescribed dose. This then changed when service managers deemed him to be engaging well, and Mr Bellusci was placed on five-day collections.

However, when the coronavirus pandemic hit in March, and the country went into lockdown, because of Mr Bellusci’s underlying COPD he was deemed high risk, so he was given 14 days' worth of methadone to take home to reduce the time he needed to spend outside.

Mr Bellusci’s daughter, Lauren, told the inquest: “I found out he had been using heroin and stepped in and tried to be there for him. He was doing well, really well.

“When I went to the flat after he died, there were five bottles on top of the bin altogether; usually there would be one bottle, some crisp packets, then another bottle etc, so I thought he had taken all five at once.”

Dr Adeley concluded Mr Bellusci he died from methadone toxicity. "I don’t think there is sufficient evidence to say whether it was accidental or on purpose.”