A prolific drug user was found unresponsive in an alleyway close to a chippy by a cyclist, an inquest has heard.

Peter Howarth, 48, was discovered lying on the ground close to the chip shop on Wellington Street, Blackburn, at around 5.30am on June 21 by Kevin Ince, who was cycling to work.

An inquest at Blackburn Town Hall was told how Mr Howarth, who lived with his brother just around the corner on Stansfield Street, had been suffering from a spinal infection for which he’d been in hospital twice, and on the night before he died had been struggling to breathe.

Evidence read to the court by Coroner Janine Wolstenholme revealed that Mr Howarth had been a cocaine, heroin and methadone user for a number of years and regularly smoked and also injected the drugs.

Ms Wolstenholme said: “His sister said he took cocaine, amphetamine, diazepam and zopiclone and was on a large amount of drugs, and would abuse drugs on a daily basis, multiple times a day.

“His brother, who he had lived with since 2007 said he used heroin daily and was on anti-depressants.

“On June 20 they had both been in the house and had smoked a pipe of crack cocaine, something they would do every day.

“He said Peter had injected amphetamine into both his arms and legs and around midnight said he was struggling to breathe.

“His brother offered to call an ambulance and go with him to hospital but he refused and went to bed.

“But at 3.30am, Peter went back into the living room and said he was still struggling to breathe. Again he refused an ambulance.”

Ms Wolstenholme told the court that Peter then left the house to go to his mother’s address, which is something he did every morning around 3.30am, in order to take his methadone.

At around 5.30am, Kevin Ince was cycling to work and as he went past the chip shop on Wellington Street he saw a man lying in the alleyway.

Ms Wolstenholme said: “Mr Ince turned round to check on him but got no response. He said he could see he was lying on his back with his eyes open and he looked like he was dead.

“Mr Ince called the police and the ambulance service, who arrived and pronounced Mr Howarth dead at 5.55am.”

The inquest heard how Mr Howarth had been receiving support from drug service Inspire, and was on the Spark treatment programme, but found it difficult to engage, despite support from his family.

He reported to one of the treatment team that he had been in severe pain with his back for several months before his death and had requested strong painkillers from his GP the year before.

A post mortem concluded that should a toxicology report prove negative then a medical cause of death would be offered as pulmonary thromboembolism.

However, toxicology came back positive, revealing Mr Howarth had a combination of amphetamine, cocaine, methadone, morphine, mirtazapine and risperidone in his system and multi-drug toxicity was therefore offered as a medical cause of death.

Ms Wolstenholme concluded that Mr Howarth died a drug-related death.