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Open verdict on 21-year-old DJ’s death

09:15 15 February 2013

North Devon Magistrates Court, Barnstaple

North Devon Magistrates Court, Barnstaple


Coroner rules epilepsy could have been a possible cause of Peter England’s death.

A CORONER has returned an open verdict after a 21-year-old DJ with a history of epilepsy was found dead at his home in Chulmleigh.

Peter England, who was found in his bathroom at 2 The Green on June 15 last year, had probably died as the result of an epileptic fit, an inquest heard.

The part-time DJ at Venue nightclub in Barnstaple was first diagnosed with epilepsy when he had a seizure on holiday in France at the age of 12.

His GP, Dr Ian Guilford, said he had trouble taking his medicine and also suffered from depression and anxiety.

Peter’s body was discovered by his flatmate William Clifton, who said his friend had been under a lot of stress having lost his job, been discovered taking drugs at a party and fallen out with his stepdad in the two weeks previous.

But William said Peter was ‘very upbeat’ the night before his death, having found a box of codeine in the loft, and told him he wanted to get ‘off his face’.

In the early hours of the next morning, the inquest heard Peter was unable to sleep and went for a walk around the village, ending up at Chulmleigh Bakery.

“He said he couldn’t sleep so we told him to go and make us a cup of tea,” said Stephen Edby, a friend of Peter’s who was working at the bakery at around 4am when he turned up.

“Peter was a fit bloke and always looked well but that day he looked really tired and rough; he had no colour in his face and was hot and sweating buckets.”

After going on a delivery round with Stephen, Peter returned home and went to bed at around 10am, which was the last time William saw him alive.

“I went to my girlfriend’s house to watch a film at about 12pm, and returned home at about 3.30pm,” said William.

“I went to the bedroom but couldn’t see him, so I went to the bathroom and was shocked to find Pete lying on the floor.

“Despite my shock, I knew he was dead.”

Peter, who was pronounced dead by paramedics at 4.12pm, was described by William as fun to be with; a young man who enjoyed parties and was friends with everyone.

A post mortem and toxicology report suggested the cause of death could have been an epileptic fit, but the exact reason was unascertainable.

There were normal levels of citalopram (an antidepressant) and therapeutic levels of codeine and valproate (an epilepsy treatment) found in his bloodstream, but nothing of a fatal, toxic level, said Coroner Dr Elizabeth Earland.

Dr Earland said: “We do know between 12.15pm and 3.30pm Peter, an epileptic and dyslexic who suffered from depression, collapsed in the shower.

“It’s possible he died of sudden, unexpected epilepsy, but I think it’s important I return an open verdict in this matter because we’re unable to say for sure what exactly caused his death.”


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