A 32-year-old electrician from Rochester spent the evening at home with friends before he was found dead in his bedroom. Billy Fortune lived in a flat in Cuxton Road, sharing a flat with a long-term friend.
Friend Luke Roberts, who had known Billy for around 15 years, called police after finding him with “no signs of life” in the late evening on May 22. His death was confirmed soon after by ambulance crews just after 11.30pm.
The inquest at County Hall in Maidstone yesterday (November 8) heard how Billy had died from fatal toxin morphine consumption, with cocaine and alcohol consumption. Assistant coroner Bina Patel said Billy had not been known to drugs and alcohol services and had last been seen by mental health services in 2017.
(Image: Unknown, from GoFundMe page for him)
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The inquest heard Billy took daily painkillers for a previous dislocation of one of his shoulders. In 2019 he had spoken to his GP about anxiety. He also had gastro issues. In May he had spoken to doctors about abdominal pain, nausea and diarrhoea and was found to have a renal stone. He was advised on diet but missed gastro appointments late last year and early this year.
A toxicology report found a potentially fatal level of morphine in his body and other substances including cocaine, and benzoylecgonine, which is produced by the liver after someone has taken cocaine. The inquest heard how morphine and cocaine taken together work against each other, as morphine slows breathing, but cocaine creates oxygen demand in the body, increasing heart rate and blood flow.
Police examined the scene and took an account of the evening from the friends. They had been drinking alcohol through the night and taken cocaine, tablets and other medication. Police were confident there was no sign of third party involvement or suspicious circumstances surrounding Billy’s death.
The inquest heard Billy was born in Chatham but his family had moved to Devon about four years ago, but Billy returned to live in Strood three years ago to be near his friends. Miss Patel recorded a verdict of drugs-related death. Although there was no family present, the coroner passed on her condolences to his father Keith, and Billy’s other family, and friends’ network.
A GoFundMe page was launched in May to raise money for a memorial bench for Billy. It more than doubled its target of £1,500 by raising £3,135. Organised by Chelsea Delaney, it describes people being “heartbroken” by his death. It said: “Billy was known and loved by many and will be missed in all of our lives. It’s hard to put into words just how much Billy meant to us, so this is why we have decided to get a bench in his memory.”
It said the bench would be installed on the backfields of the Esplanade in Rochester. She said the bench would “immortalise Billy even more than he already is, so we can feel him in summers’ rain”.
She said: “This creates a place where anyone who shared a memory with Billy can go and reflect on their time together.” The GoFundMe page said it would let people know when the bench was installed.
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